Updated on 09/17/2011 5:42PM

Azeri scores effortless win in Spinster

Email
Bill Straus/Keeneland
Azeri wins the Grade 1, $500,000 Overbrook Spinster Sunday at Keeneland by 3 lengths.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - One day after Sightseek scored an effortless Grade 1 victory in the Beldame at Belmont, Azeri did her best to match her accomplishments in the battle for champion older mare, winning the Grade 1, $500,000 Sunday at Keeneland by 3 lengths.

Enjoying a perfect, stalking trip, Azeri tracked Tamweel in second as that one set legitimate fractions of 46.99 and 1:11.71 in the 1 1/8-mile dirt contest, and had no trouble reeling her in through the stretch.

She moved up on her own on the final turn, and drew away under mild encouragement from jockey Pat Day in the stretch. She raced the distance in 1:49.74, paying $2.80 as the overwhelming favorite in the field of seven.

Day, who won three of nine races at Keeneland on Sunday, said the win was as easy as it appeared. "She was well within herself," he said.

Tamweel held on bravely in the stretch, even after Azeri passed her, edging Mayo On the Side by half-length for the runner-up position. One for Rose, La Reason, Angela's Love and House of Fortune completed the order of finish. The latter, the second choice at 4-1 odds, was four-wide throughout and faded in the stretch after making a brief bid on the final turn.

Winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas credited Michael Paulson, who heads the Allen Paulson Living Trust that owns 6-year-old Azeri, for returning her to racing following a brief retirement late last year.

When asked of his Breeders' Cup intentions with Azeri, he was noncommittal between running in the Classic or Distaff. He said he would confer with Paulson before making that decision.

The Spinster was the first victory at Keeneland for Azeri, who had been based mostly in California until this year. She won for the seventeenth time in 23 starts, boosting her earnings to nearly $4 million.

Lukas and Day sang Azeri's praises after the race, with Day saying Azeri "might be as good as I've ridden." Lukas said he considers her among the great mares he has trained, such as Lady's Secret, Winning Colors and Serena's Song.