Azerbaijan International

Spring 2003 (11.1)
Page 15


Best Race Horse of the Year - "Azeri"
by Jay Hovdey

Best Race Horse of the Year - "Azeri"
Left: Azeri and Mike Smith return after a commanding victory in the Grade I $200,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap Saturday, May 25, 2002 at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, CA. The 4-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter is owned by Mike Paulson and trained by Laura DeSeroux. (Benoit Photo)

To be Azeri has taken on a whole new meaning, at least when it comes to the sport of Thoroughbred Horse Racing. "Azeri" is the name of a Thoroughbred mare. She is five years old and weighs about 1,000 pounds. Her coat is a rich, mahogany red. Often, by nature, thoroughbreds are tightly-wound, easily agitated creatures, prone to fits of temper and unpredictable behavior. Azeri, on the other hand, is so docile that her handlers call her "Honeybear."

But more than that, Azeri is acknowledged as the best racehorse in North America. That was the verdict of the thoroughbred racing industry on Jan. 27, 2003, when Azeri was crowned "Horse of the Year" before a glitzy crowd at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. It was Miss America and the Oscars all rolled into one, as Azeri became the third female horse ever to receive such an honor in the 32-year history of the award.

Azeri was named by her original owner Allen Paulson, the aerospace magnate whose many global investments included racehorses, casinos and oil exploration. As a breeder and owner of hundreds of racehorses, Paulson cast a wide net in search of colorful and interesting names. It was oil that took Paulson to Baku in the mid-1990s and hence the name - Azeri.

Paulson passed away in the summer of 2000, before Azeri had even begun her career as a racehorse. Paulson's son, Michael, carried on for his father, and Azeri has proven to be a gem of great value. During 2002, her first full year of competition, she appeared in nine races and won eight of them, climaxed by her impressive victory last October in one of the events at the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which took place at a racetrack near Chicago. Azeri's total prize money for year 2002 came to more than $2.1 million.

When not racing, Azeri can be found at the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center near the Southern California town of Bonsall, located about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. There, Azeri spends her mornings in a regimen of strict fitness conditioning under the supervision of her trainer, 50-year-old Laura de Seroux. In the afternoon, when her work is done, Azeri enjoys a long nap lying in the warm sand of her roomy, sun-drenched enclosure.

Azeri returned to competition on April 5, at a racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and picked up right where she left off at the end of 2002 with yet another victory. Her ultimate goal for 2003 is once again the Breeders' Cup World Championship, which will be held in late October at Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.

Jay Hovdey is executive columnist for Daily Racing Form, the leading journal of the Thoroughbred world. The exploits of Azeri can be followed on <>.

Back to Index AI 11.1 (Spring 2003)
AI Home
| Search | Magazine Choice | Topics | AI Store | Contact us

Other Web sites created by Azerbaijan International
| |