Updated on 09/16/2011 7:58AM

Azeri victorious in Santa Margarita


ARCADIA, Calif. - Lightly-raced Azeri, the only 4-year-old in the Grade 1 for fillies and mares Sunday at Santa Anita, scored a decisive win that propelled her to the head of the West Coast distaff division. Making only her fifth career start, the daughter of Jade Hunter outfinished runner-up Spain by three lengths. It was one length farther back to third-place finisher Printemps, the 2-1 favorite.

The win was Azeri's fourth from five starts, and the first Grade 1 for the filly and her trainer, Laura DeSeroux. Azeri was bred in Kentucky by Allen Paulson, and is owned by his heirs, the Allen Paulson Living Trust. Mike Smith rode the winner, who completed the mile and an eighth in a respectable 1:49.01.

Azeri, second choice in the wagering, returned $6.40 for the perfect-trip victory. Smith kept Azeri fourth on the rail, angled three-wide nearing the quarter pole, collared Spain inside the final eighth and won going away. Spain pressed pacesetter Favorite Funtime, kicked away at the quarter pole, but was no match late. Printemps, who trailed by nearly 10 lengths on the backstretch, picked up the pieces to finish a no-threat third. The order of finish was completed by Alexine, Tropical Lady, Favorite Funtime, and Minor Details.

Azeri won her career debut in November, followed with two allowance wins, and finished second behind Summer Colony in the La Canada Stakes for 4-year-olds on Feb. 9. The Santa Margarita was her first attempt in a Grade 1. Azeri earned $180,000 for the win, and increased her earnings total to $300,400.

DeSeroux said she plans to give Azeri a break, and point for a late-summer fall campaign that would culminate in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Oct. 26.

* A pick six carryover of $205,959 is up for grabs when racing resumes Wednesday at Santa Anita.