Azeri front-runner for Horse of the Year
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Azeri, who became the front-runner for Horse of the Year following Saturday's Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park, emerged from the race in good order, will ship home to California on Tuesday, and will race again next year, trainer Laura de Seroux said Sunday morning.
Azeri was a runaway winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff, her eighth win in nine starts this year. That victory - coupled with the upset by Volponi in a Breeders' Cup Classic in which Came Home, Medaglia d'Oro, and War Emblem all were defeated - left Azeri as the leading contender for Horse of the Year.
"Who else would you give it to?" de Seroux asked, not unreasonably, Sunday morning at Arlington Park. "And wouldn't she deserve it? She didn't let anyone down, and she did it in great style."
De Seroux said she watched the Classic with rapt interest, knowing a victory by an outsider would enhance Azeri's chances of being named Horse of the Year.
"I didn't concentrate on wanting someone to lose, just on which horses I wanted to win, and Volponi was one of them," de Seroux said with a smile.
De Seroux said Azeri might have to step out of her division and race against males next year because "she might be weighted out" of handicap races exclusively for females.
"She's one in a gazillion," de Seroux said. "For me, this might not ever happen again."
If Azeri is named Horse of the Year, she would be the third since Eclipse Awards voting began in 1971, joining Lady's Secret (1986) and All Along (1983). Azeri would be the first female, however, who did not race and win against males during her Horse of the Year campaign.