Updated on 09/17/2011 5:35PM

Battle of last two champs may be thwarted if Azeri runs in Classic


ELMONT, N.Y. - If Azeri and Adoration start in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, it will be the first time two returning winners run in the race.

Before any Breeders' Cup match-up, Azeri, who won the 2002 Distaff, and Adoration, who won the race last year, will meet in Keeneland's Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster on Oct. 10.

The Azeri camp hasn't committed to running her in the 1 1/8-mile Distaff and she may run against males in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Michael Paulson, Azeri's owner, said Azeri would most likely be cross-entered in the Distaff and Classic when pre-entries close Oct. 18.

"The Classic is an option for a horse of her caliber," Paulson said Tuesday. "We haven't made any definite plans and will take it week by week, based on how the divisions are lining up. Our goal is to win a Breeders' Cup race, whether it's the Classic or Distaff."

On Monday at Churchill Downs, Azeri worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds, the fastest of 34 works at the distance. It was her second work since finishing second in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga last month.

Wayne Lukas, Azeri's trainer, is pointing Grade 1 winner Stellar Jayne to the Distaff and could possibly use the Grade 3, $400,000 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hoosier Park on Oct. 1 as a prep.

"She may or may not run before the Breeders' Cup, but from the Gazelle on Sept. 11 it's 49 days [between races], and that might be a stretch in light of the competition she'll face in the Distaff," said Lukas, who has won a record four Distaffs. "The race at Hoosier is the only one we're seriously looking at because it's the chance to run for $400,000 against straight 3-year-olds."

Last year, Adoration used the 1 1/16-mile Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita as a prep for the Distaff. This year, her trainer, David Hofmans, has elected to ship Adoration to Kentucky from California for the 1 1/8-mile Spinster.

"Things were a little different last year because she was off [seven] months and the Lady's Secret was her second race back," Hofmans said. "I didn't want to cut her back in distance this year in the Lady's Secret after running a mile and an eighth in Chicago."

After her 11 1/4-length romp in last Sunday's Ruffian Handicap, Sightseek will be pointed to the Grade 1, $750,000 Beldame on Oct. 9, which could be the final start of her career. Bobby Frankel, Sightseek's trainer, said he won't make a decision on the Distaff until after the Beldame.

"This is definitely her last year, and you want her to go out on a good note," Frankel said.

The Beldame is also expected to attract Personal Ensign winner Storm Flag Flying and Alabama winner Society Selection, who worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:14.62 at Belmont on Wednesday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will run Ashado in the Grade 2 Cotillion at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 2 with an eye on the Distaff.

Distaff Contenders
3-year-olds & up, fillies & mares, 1 1/8 miles. Purse: $2 million.

1SightseekR. Frankel7-2
In order to be divisional champ, she must beat Azeri, and in this race
2AzeriD. W. Lukas3-1
Vulnerable if denied control of the pace; will also pre-enter the Classic
3Storm Flag FlyingC. McGaughey6-1
Not sure she can beat the top two without some outside assistance
4Island FashionM. Polanco10-1
Strong early-season form; question if she can be ready in time to run
5AdorationD. Hofmans12-1
Won this race last year at 40-1, and won't be close to that this time
6Society SelectionH. A. Jerkens12-1
Was it Lasix or Saratoga that triggered her stunning recent success?
7AshadoT. Pletcher10-1
May need a perfect set up to get this trip against this type of female
8ElloluvC. Dollase20-1
Second in this race last year, and back on her game with blinkers on
9Stellar JayneD. W. Lukas20-1
Although a cut below, she just runs one solid race after another
10Summer Wind DancerJ. Mullins30-1
Her last two wins were the biggest of her career, by a long way

- Odds and commentary by Mike Watchmaker.