Azeri likely made herself the favorite for the Horse of the Year Eclipse with her impressive win in the Distaff.
The $2 milion Breeders' Cup Distaff featured the best of California in the form of the 9-5 favorite Azeri, taking on some formidable eastern-based fillies and mares such as Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes winner Farda Amiga and Spinster winner Take Charge Lady.
When the gate opened, Mike Smith wasted no time hustling Azeri to the front while Imperial Gesture stalked behind her. Despite a rain-soaked track labeled "good", she led the procession through very fast fractions of 23.47, 46.20,1:09.70, and the mile in 1:35.32. It was too much for Imperial Gesture, who was headed for second by the late charge of Farda Amiga. But the day belonged to Azeri, who drew off to a 5 length win in a quick 1:48.64.
Purse: $2,000,000 Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Azeri Smith 5.60 3.60 2.60 3 Farda Amiga Day 4.60 3.40 5 Imperial Gesture Bailey 3.40
The start of the Distaff.
Azeri returns after the race and gets her flowers. Jockey Mike Smith said, "It went just like I dreamt last night. Every step of the way was a celebration. This was the best she ever broke, like a rocket. I was able to open enough on Imperial Gesture to give her a breather because I knew they would be coming at her."
Azeri in the winner's circle. She is Laura De Seroux's first Breeders' Cup starter, and now her first winner as well. She said, "She is simply a fantastic filly. She's so fast and she's so relaxed doing it. She's never been in danger of losing a race. It's rare that you find a horse that can put together a win streak like that."
Michael Paulson, representing winning owner the Allen Paulson Living Trust said, "I'm just a little taken aback. It's a vry emotional day. I wish my dad was here. We had full faith in this horse. She;s in a league of her own, a world of her own, and she's a superhorse. She's a gift left by my dad."
Azeri behind the gate waiting to load. Asked what plans are next for Azeri, de Seroux said "She's going to get a good rest because she's been going since November 1st of last year." Michael Paulson added, "We're hoping to race her next year. It would be a shame not to. She's a superstar and she loves to race."
Second place finisher Farda Amiga returns after the race. Her jockey Pat Day said, "We found ourselves in a good spot as we went into the first turn, then [the frontrunners] got away from her a little bit, but she came with a great run at the end. She was just second best." Trainer Paulo Lobo added, "She ran a very good race but she was beaten by a monster."
Third place finisher Imperial Gesture heads to the track for the post parade. Her jockey Jerry Bailey said, "She didn't handle the track warming up and I'm actually surprised at how well she ran. I was trying to get second money without abusing her. But I've got to tip my hat to what she showed."
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