Azeri has earned more purse money than any other female in the history of North
American thoroughbred racing. However, that statistic does not begin to
tell the story of her legend.
Her four year-old campaign was one of the most dominant in recent memory. After
an early season loss to millionairess Summer Colony, Azeri reeled off seven consecutive
victories and made it look as if she was the only horse on the track. Five of
those victories came grade one events and she vanquished the likes of Spain,
Affluent, Take Charge Lady and Starrer. Her domination lead to Eclipse Awards
not only for Champion Older Filly/Mare but for Horse of the Year as well. Azeri
is the only filly to achieve that distinction without racing against males.
As a five year-old, Azeri was back again, making it look easy. She was managed
through a more conservative schedule by then-trainer Laura De Seroux, a campaign
that included a heart stopping nose victory over Take Charge Lady in Apple Blossom
and facile romps in the Vanity, Milady and the Clement L. Hirsch Handicaps. Azeri
would then suffer a tendon injury while going for her 12th straight win in the
Lady’s Secret H in October at Santa Anita. Her courage carried her to a
second place finish that day, but it could not carry her back to the Breeders’ Cup
to defend her Distaff title. She was nevertheless awarded her second Eclipse
Award as Champion Older Filly/Mare.
Press reports had Azeri retired. They said her injury was too serious to resume
her racing career. A career as a broodmare in Kentucky was what they said was
next for Azeri. But owner Michael Paulson sensed Azeri wanted to do more. After
careful re-evaluation of her injury, she was deemed racing sound. Azeri would
be back and another legend, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, would train
In her first start for Lukas, and first start in over six months, she exploded
to win her third consecutive Apple Blossom Handicap, a feat no other filly has
ever accomplished. Azeri then lost three races and again there were whispers
that the champ was finished.
Once again Azeri proved them all wrong. In August, she squared off against multiple
grade one winner Sightseek in the Go For Wand at Saratoga. The two valiant mares
entered the stretch in tandem as track announcer Tom Durkin exclaimed “At
the top of the stretch it’s the two best mares in America”. When
Azeri hit the wire nearly two lengths ahead of Sightseek all doubts were erased.
It was Azeri, the best mare in America and one of the best of all-time.