Updated on 09/17/2011 1:22PM

De Seroux rebuilds stable


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Laura de Seroux has spent the last six months reforming a stable decimated by the loss of the champion Azeri last fall and by injuries that sidelined several other important horses.

Azeri was almost retired in October because of a tendon injury, but was put back in training in December by owner Michael Paulson. She was sent to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. In her comeback race, Azeri won the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park last Saturday.

At the time de Seroux was in California overseeing a stable that in recent weeks has shown signs of rebounding after a slow start this year.

"I laid low," she said. "I knew when all the good ones go to the bench at the same time, you'll hit a bad patch."

In the last few weeks for de Seroux, Just Wonder finished second in the El Cielo Handicap on March 21, Dublino was second in an allowance race on March 28, and Total Impact was second in the Grade 3 San Bernardino Handicap last Saturday.

Those three will return in stakes in coming weeks, joined by the promising Buffy My Love, who starts in an allowance race on the California Gold Rush program at Hollywood Park on April 24.

Saturday, de Seroux will be at Santa Anita, where Toasted makes his U.S. turf debut in the $100,000 La Puente Stakes at a mile on turf for 3-year-olds.

Toasted, who worked a half-mile on turf in 49.60 seconds on Wednesday, has won 2 of 5 starts, with the wins coming at about six furlongs in France last year. In his final start in that country, Toasted finished third in a restricted stakes over a mile in Deauville last August.

Owned by Sidney Port, Toasted has started once for de Seroux, finishing eighth in the Grade 2 San Felipe Sakes on the main track on March 14.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Toasted broke from the outside, was away slowly, and finished 11 lengths behind Preachinatthebar.

The loss left de Seroux unsure whether Toasted can handle dirt. "The result was inconclusive," she said. "He broke a little flat-footed and got a lot of dirt in his face. He dropped way far out of it. When they were turning for home, Gary started to make a nice move and ran into Action This Day stopping. He pulled him up.

"I think with a clear run he could have been third or fourth. We bought him with the intention of trying him on the dirt because of his pedigree."

The optimism surrounding Toasted and the return of other prominent horses has helped soften the loss of Azeri for de Seroux.

From March 2002 to August 2003, de Seroux guided Azeri to an 11-race winning streak that ended with a third-place finish in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita last September. (Azeri was moved up to second via disqualification.)

Prior to the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita last October, de Seroux said Azeri had an inflamed tendon in her left foreleg. She was sent to Kentucky with the expectation that she would be bred. "She'd palpated sore after a workout," de Seroux said. "I didn't have a crystal ball. Usually with tendons, that's a no-win situation."

In the days after the Breeders' Cup, Paulson removed the rest of his horses from de Seroux's stable at the San Luis Rey Downs training center in northern San Diego County.

With de Seroux, Azeri won the 2002 Horse of the Year title and the champion older mare titles for 2002 and 2003.

"I don't want anything to do with that anymore," she said. "I'm glad the tendon inflammation settled down as much as it did. I thought she looked great. Taking the pressure off of her probably started the healing process.

"I'm not in a bitter position," the trainer said. "I cherish what I had. I'm humbled to be part of the greatest mare perhaps of all time."

Several bound for stakes

De Seroux has stakes plans for several members of her stable in the next month.

Dublino and Little Treasure start in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on April 25.

Ballingarry, fourth in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap last Saturday, will start in the $350,000 Jim Murray Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf on May 8.

Total Impact will attempt to defend his title in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap over 1 1/16 miles the same day. He was beaten 4 1/2 lengths by Dynever in the San Bernardino.

"He's doing well," de Seroux said of Total Impact. "He needs a lot of racing. Without Dynever, I win the San Bernardino."

Pedroza hopes to return at Hollywood

Jockey Martin Pedroza, who suffered a broken collarbone in a two-horse spill on March 28, is hoping to return during the first two weeks of the Hollywood Park meeting, which begins on April 21.

Pedroza, who has won 29 races at this meeting, said he has resumed light exercise. "I want to do things, but I'm not supposed to do too much," he said. "In the last three days, I've been walking."

Pedroza was injured when he was thrown from Casas Caballo when that horse broke down during the Potrero Grande Handicap.

Barrera becomes Garcia's jockey agent

Larry Barrera, who left training in recent months, has become the agent for jockey Matt Garcia.

Barrera trained for Aaron and Marie Jones last year, but disbanded his stable over the winter. Previously, he had worked as a racing manager for the Joneses after spending several years out of racing because of substance-abuse problems.

* Ten Most Wanted, a top 3-year-old of 2003, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 on Wednesday. Fifth in the New Orleans Handicap on Feb. 29 in his lone start this year, Ten Most Wanted is being pointed for the $250,000 National Jockey Club Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Hawthorne on April 17.

* McCann's Mojave, who won the Potrero Grande, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Wednesday. Trained by Leonard Dorfman, McCann's Mojave is being considered for the Tiznow Stakes over 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on April 24, or possibly the Churchill Downs Handicap over seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 1.