03/29/2003 12:00AM

Azeri has trainer beaming


Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, breezed five furlongs in 58.20 seconds on Saturday morning in her final workout for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 5, which will be her first start since she won the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Oct. 26.

She worked at her San Luis Rey Downs training center base, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.40, according to her trainer, Laura de Seroux. Brian Eide, her longtime exercise rider, was aboard for the move.

"It was spectacular," said de Seroux, who trains Azeri for the Allen Paulson Living Trust. "We pronounce her fit and ready."

De Seroux said Azeri would fly to Oaklawn on Wednesday. She will be ridden by Mike Smith in the Apple Blossom, one of five Grade 1 races the mare won last year en route to being crowned Horse of the Year.

There are four others considered probable for the Apple Blossom: Take Charge Lady, Affluent, and Mandy's Gold, all Grade 1 winners, and Rhiana, who two starts ago was third in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap.

The Apple Blossom will share a card with the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap, which is expected to draw Medaglia D'oro. He worked six furlongs in 1:13 at Hollywood Park Saturday for trainer Bobby Frankel.