Updated on 09/16/2011 8:00AM

Azeri wins Clement Hirsch

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Azeri wins her fifth straight victory in Sunday's $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Trainer Laura de Seroux has carefully spaced the races of Azeri as she marches toward the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and the brilliant filly continued to thrive under that management by strolling to her fifth straight victory, in Sunday's $300,000 at Del Mar.

Azeri breezed home two lengths in front of 23-1 shot Angel Gift, but the margin could have been far greater had jockey Mike Smith loosened his grip on the reins. There was no need. There are bigger prizes to hunt down the road. This was a paid workout.

Se Me Acabo was another two lengths back in third. Queen of Wilshire and Irguns Angel trailed.

Azeri completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.66.

Only the fact that the Hirsch is a Grade 2 kept Azeri from winning her fifth Grade 1 race of the year. She is now 6-for-7 this year, and 8-for-9 overall, her lone loss coming against Summer Colony in the La Canada Stakes in February.

Azeri is a much better filly now than she was earlier this year. Only five rivals entered against Azeri, despite her carrying topweight of 126 pounds, and when Adoration was scratched, only four lined up against her. Azeri, who paid $2.20 to win, was an overwhelming favorite in the show pool. Of the $764,201 bet to show in the race, $725,656 was bet on Azeri, resulting in $2.10 prices on the first three finishers and a minus show pool of $130,262. Track officials said two separate $200,000 show wagers -- one at the Meadowlands, one at Santa Anita -- were placed on Azeri.

Irguns Angel and Queen of Wilshire broke fastest, and as the field passed under the wire the first time, Azeri was third, and throwing her head about a bit. But Irguns Angel, who started from the inside, was racing off the rail, and Smith deftly guided Azeri there. In a matter of strides, Azeri rushed quickly from third to seize the lead. After a quarter-mile, she was in front, and she never looked back.

Azeri began to pull clear on the final turn. Angel Gift, rallying from last, became mired in traffic, then got free and ran on for second. But the winner was long gone, and the trouble did not alter the outcome.

"The beat goes on, and let it march on to the Breeders' Cup," said de Seroux, who said Azeri would likely race just one more time prior to the Breeders' Cup.

Azeri, a 4-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter, was bred by the late Allen Paulson and is owned by his trust.