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ROUNDUP

Azeri Rallies for Her 11th Win in 12 Starts

April 06, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Making her first start of 2003, Azeri, the reigning horse of the year, did the expected and defended her title in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

However, her 11th victory in 12 starts, and sixth in a Grade I, was anything but easy.

Overcoming a slow start and a wide trip, the 5-year-old Jade Hunter mare, idle since her five-length domination of the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Oct. 26, got up in the final strides to edge pacesetter Take Charge Lady and win by a nose. Owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust and trained by Laura De Seroux, Azeri, the 2-5 favorite, completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 under jockey Mike Smith.

In receipt of five pounds (123-118) from the winner, Take Charge Lady finished a little more than three lengths in front of 17-1 shot Mandy's Gold, then came Affluent, Rhiana, Bien Nicole and Took Out.

Azeri became the second two-time winner of the Apple Blossom. Paseana won the race in 1992 and 1993 for owners Sid and Jenny Craig and trainer Ron McAnally.

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Later in the program, Medaglia d'Oro had a much easier time, winning the $500,000 Oaklawn Park Handicap by nearly three lengths over 17-1 shot Slider.

The 1-10 favorite under jockey Jerry Bailey, the 4-year-old son of El Prado made the lead, set moderate fractions and won with something in reserve. Owned by Ed Gann and trained by Bobby Frankel, Medaglia d'Oro completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47 3/5.

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Father and son trainers Wally and Craig Dollase had a big day out of town.

After Craig won the $551,750 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland with Elloluv, Wally took the $500,000 Illinois Derby with Ten Most Wanted.

In winning her second Grade I, Elloluv, the 2-1 second choice, led every step of the way under new rider Robby Albarado and went on to beat the previously undefeated Lady Tak, the 13-10 favorite, by 3 3/4 lengths. In winning for the fourth time in seven starts for owner Paul Reddam, the 3-year-old Gilded Time filly ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.58.

"This filly has tremendous speed and she puts herself in the race," said Craig Dollase. "Robby did a great job slowing down the pace."

Against an ordinary field at Hawthorne, Ten Most Wanted, the 2-1 favorite, took command in the stretch after jockey Pat Day found room and went on to a four-length win in 1:51.47 for the 1 1/8 miles.

Owned by a partnership that includes James Chisholm, Michael Jarvis and the Horizon Stable, the Deputy Commander colt has won two of five.

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Making his third start, Dynever became a stakes winner, easily capturing the $250,000 Aventura at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

Trained by Christophe Clement for owners Peter Karches and Catherine Wills, the 3-year-old Dynaformer colt and 9-10 favorite drew away from 4-1 third choice Supah Blitz to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Ridden by Edgar Prado, he ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.06 for his second victory.

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