03/09/2007 12:00AM

Azeri Breeders' Cup Stakes preview


Saturday, March 10, 2007
Race 9 - Oaklawn Park
1 1/16 Miles
Azeri Breeders' Cup Stakes (Grade 3)
4-year-olds and upward, fillies and mares
Purse $175,000.

INDIA finally began to live up to her potential at the end of 2006, and it's possible that the daughter of Hennessy wanted to go two turns all along. She is undefeated in route races, and was basically geared down late when winning the Grade 2 Cotillion to cap off her 3-year-old campaign. She'll face older horses for the first time on Saturday, but has the tactical speed to be close to the moderate pace, and trainer Todd Pletcher is having another phenomenal year. India's Beyer Speed Figures tower over the field, and she is the horse to beat despite the layoff.
KETTLEONEUP has some angles in her corner as the lightly-raced filly adds blinkers for the important third start of the form cycle. She worked a quick half-mile five days ago (presumably wearing the new equipment), and may be more aggressive in the opening furlong. She has shown Beyer improvement, and looms an interesting value play. PLAID hasn't finished off the board since September of 2005, and she won the local prep for the Azeri in fine fashion. Handicappers must respect anything the Asmussen barn puts on the track, and Plaid is a solid, professional runner. She is another stalker that should be in the hunt when they turn for home. GASIA makes her first start of the year, but she ran very well over this surface in 2006, and should save valuable ground going into the first turn. She's faced tough company in her career, and is a good fit in this spot.

1. India
2. Kettleoneup
3. Plaid