Azeri (horse)

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Sire Jade Hunter
Grandsire Mr. Prospector
Dam Zodiac Miss
Damsire Ahonoora
Sex Mare
Foaled 1998
Country United States of America
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Allen E. Paulson
Owner Allen E. Paulson Living Trust
Trainer Laura de Seroux
D. Wayne Lukas
Record 24:17-4-0
Earnings $4,079,820
Major wins

Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (2002, 2003)
Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap
Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (2002)
Apple Blossom Handicap
(2002, 2003, 2004)
Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (2002, 2003)
Vanity Handicap (2002, 2003)
Go For Wand Handicap (2004)
Spinster Stakes (2004)

Breeders' Cup wins:
Breeders' Cup Distaff (2002)
American Horse of the Year (2002)
American Champion Older Female Horse
(2002, 2003, 2004)
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (2010)
Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park Race Track
Last updated on July 31, 2011

Azeri (foaled May 6, 1998 in Versailles, Kentucky) is an American Hall of Fame champion thoroughbred racehorse who was 2002 US Horse of the Year and Champion Older Female from 2002 to 2004.


Azeri was bred and owned by Allen E. Paulson, who named her for an aviation checkpoint in Baku, Azerbaijan.[1] She was sired by Jade Hunter (winner of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and the G1 Gulfstream Park Handicap), who was a son of Mr. Prospector. Azeri is the only starter out of the Ahonoora mare Zodiac Miss, who was bred in Australia by John Messara's Arrowfield Stud.[2] She is a descendant of the family of 1999 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Silic (FR). Australian bloodstock agents Brian King and James Bester (with California-based agent Denny Boultinghouse) recommended Zodiac Miss to Paulson, and the filly was shipped to US to race for her new owner. At the end of her racing career, Paulson sent Zodiac Miss to the breeding shed. Paulson was an aerospace magnate (Gulfstream Aerospace) whose global investments included racehorses, casinos, and oil exploration. He also bred and raced Cigar (Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996), who ranks #2 on the North American all-time money-earners' list. Azeri was a buyback for $110,000 at the 1999 Keeneland September yearling sale from the consignment of Jonabell Farm.

Racing career[edit]

Azeri was originally trained by Simon Bray before Allen Paulson's son Michael (whose father died in 2000) transferred her to trainer Laura de Seroux in August 2001. Of Azeri, Seroux said, "She didn't let anyone down, and she did it in great style. She's simply the fastest filly in the world now. You can't catch her early, and you can't catch her late." She won her first race (a six-furlong maiden race late in her three-year-old season) at Santa Anita on November 1, 2001, in the good time of 1:08.

Injury and trainer change[edit]

After an 11-race winning streak, Azeri suffered a tendon injury while going for her 12th straight win in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita. She finished second, but the injury was career-threatening. Laura de Seroux recommended that she be retired, but Michael Paulson decided she could race again and turned her training over to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. In her first start for Lukas, six months after her injury, Azeri won an unprecedented third consecutive Apple Blossom Handicap. She then lost three races in a row, including the Metropolitan Mile, in which she raced against colts for the first time. Lukas entered her in the Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, where she faced multiple-Grade 1 winner Sightseek, beating that rival by two lengths.

Azeri was an early favorite for the 2004 Breeders' Cup Distaff, but her handlers entered her in the Breeders' Cup Classic, where she faced male horses for the second time.[3] She finished fifth behind Ghostzapper.

Azeri was retired from racing in December 2004. In 24 starts, she won 17 races, finished second four times, and was unplaced three times. When Azeri was awarded the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year, she was the third female to win since voting began in 1971 (the other two female winners of HOY were All Along in 1983 and Lady's Secret in 1986; both fillies defeated males in their HOY campaigns, but Azeri did not run against males until 2004). She was also named Champion Older Filly or Mare from 2002 to 2004.

In 2005, the Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Stakes at Arkansas's Oaklawn Park was renamed the Azeri Stakes in her honor.

As a broodmare[edit]

Michael Paulson retired Azeri in December 2004. She has foaled two colts and three fillies from sires A.P. Indy, Giant's Causeway, Ghostzapper (who defeated her in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic), Distorted Humor and Zenno Rob Roy. In her first breeding season in Kentucky she was barren to Storm Cat for 2005, but delivered a chestnut colt by A.P. Indy on February 14, 2007. This colt, Take Control, is the offspring of two Horses of the Year. He won his first race (a maiden special weights at Santa Anita) on December 30, 2009. She delivered a chestnut Giant's Causeway filly, Arienza (who broke her maiden March 6, 2011 in a six-furlong maiden special weights race at Oaklawn Park), in 2008 and a chestnut Ghostzapper filly, Wine Princess, in 2009. Azeri stood at Hill 'n' Dale Farms in Lexington, Kentucky with other leading broodmares, including Silverbulletday and Better Than Honour (the dam of Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches). Azeri was sold to Japanese owners in fall 2009 and, as of 2011, resides at Japan's Northern Farm. Azeri foaled Amelie, a chestnut filly by Distorted Humor in Japan in 2010. On May 7, 2011 she foaled a chestnut colt by Zenno Rob Roy.

Azeri was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2010.[4] Azeri is one of only two female winners of the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year to have produced foals by more than one stallion who was also Horse of the Year (A.P. Indy and Ghostzapper), the other mare being Lady's Secret, who produced foals by Seattle Slew and Skip Away.

Race record[edit]

Age four (2002)[edit]

Age five (2003)[edit]

  • 1st, Apple Blossom Handicap (G1)
  • 1st, Milady BCH (G1)
  • 1st, Vanity Handicap (G1)
  • 1st, Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (G2)
  • 2nd, Lady's Secret BCH (G2)

Age six (2004)[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]



External links[edit]