Updated on 09/16/2011 7:39AM

Azeri does it again in Vanity


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Azeri is in her own league among the West Coast's older fillies and mares.

On Saturday, Azeri won the $250,000 to score her fourth consecutive win in a Grade 1 stakes. The 4-year-old Azeri was never tested, leading throughout the 1 1/8 miles and finishing three lengths in front of Affluent in 1:48.88.

"She seems to get better with each race," jockey Mike Smith said. "She's so relaxed and so happy, it's a big plus."

Azeri ($2.60) carried top weight of 125 pounds, spotting the four others in the field from six to 12 pounds. Starrer and Collect Call finished in a dead heat for third, while Terna finished last. Azeri was so heavily favored that she attracted $525,844 of the $559,930 bet to show, causing a minus pool of $109,756.

Smith guided Azeri to the front going into the first turn and she led by a length on the backstretch through fractions of 23.38 and 46.79 seconds. Trainer Laura de Seroux was not surprised Azeri did not face an early challenge.

"I hope everyone has enough respect for her not to commit suicide," de Seroux said.

Azeri extended her lead to 2 1/2 lengths on the final turn and was hand ridden to the finish. In her last race, she won the Grade 1 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap by 3 1/2 lengths.

She goes like this "when she works in the morning, lobbing along and picking it up with each quarter-mile," de Seroux said.

Affluent, last on the backstretch, rallied along the rail to finish second, three lengths in front of Starrer and Collect Call.

Owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, Azeri has won 7 of 8 starts and $877,240. Her winning streak began in the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita in March and continued a month later in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

"She's an amazing athlete and a tribute to my dad," said Mike Paulson, part of the trust that owns Azeri.

After the race, Collect Call's trainer, Christopher Paasch, summed up the feeling of opposing horsemen.

"It's official," he said. "From now on, we're ducking Azeri."