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Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473
Trainer Laura De Seroux Has Lots Of Experience For Breeders' Cup Rookie
Back in the good old days during the 1970s and 1980s, the former Laura Lubisich was one of a cadre of female exercise riders for Charlie Whittingham nicknamed "Charlie's Angels." The legendary trainer affectionately called her "Laura Bird." Whittingham, who died in 1999, would be amazed to see the heights to which she has soared for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships this year.
Laura de Seroux, who changed her last name in 1986 after marrying Narvick International bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux, hopes to cap a dream year at Arlington Park Oct. 26 by sending out her first three Breeders' Cup starters: Azeri in the Distaff; Ballingarry in the John Deere Turf; and Dublino in the Filly & Mare Turf.
The only female trainer to win a Breeders' Cup race is Jenine Sahadi, who captured the Sprint with Lit de Justice and Elmhurst in 1996 and 1997, respectively.
De Seroux, who took out her trainer's license only three years ago, credited the peace and quiet of San Luis Rey Downs in part for her meteoric rise to fame this year with about $2.8-million in purse earnings, accomplished with only 89 starters, 24 of them winners. Fourteen have been stakes winners, 12 graded, seven Grade 1. Some would consider seven Grade 1 stakes winners a great career.
Azeri, of course, is the headliner with four of the Grade 1 victories as she bids for Horse of the Year consideration as the probable Distaff favorite. The recently retired Astra added two Grade 1s, while Dublino accounted for the other.
"I'm excited about all three of my Breeders' Cup horses," said de Seroux, who put the finishing touches on Azeri and Dublino Monday with blowouts at San Luis Rey Downs before they were flown to Chicago Tuesday.
Newly acquired Ballingarry arrived Monday from France, where he was shipped four days after a victory in the Canadian International Championship at Woodbine Sept. 29. The colt was purchased after that victory for a trio of owners headed by Chicagoan Sid Port.
"My assistant, Jeffrey Ford, has been with Ballingarry in John Hammonds' yard since he arrived in Chantilly," said de Seroux. "He had two long breezes on the big turf training track there. He adapted well to his feed and showed no effects from the travel to Canada."
Azeri and Dublino will be carrying the silks of two Breeders' Cup leaders. Azeri, bred by the late Allen Paulson and owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, managed by Paulson's son Michael, will carry the red, white and blue silks of Paulson, the all-time Breeders' Cup earnings leader as both an owner and breeder.
Dublino will carry the blue and gold lightning bolt silks of the San Diego Chargers football team made famous by the late Gene Klein, who won four Breeders' Cup races from 1985-89 before dispersing his stock. Klein's son, Michael, entered the game this year and is the major owner of a group that bought Dublino.
De Seroux, who trains about 50 horses, learned her lessons well from Whittingham but also broadened her racing horizons as an advisor to Nelson Bunker Hunt and racing manager for Bruce McNall.
Although her name has not been next to any previous Breeders' Cup entrants, de Seroux has had plenty of influence and rooting interests in the past.
"Horses that Emmanuel bought have won practically every major international stake from the Arc de Triomphe to the Japan Cup, but the Breeders' Cup eluded Narvick until Northern Spur won the 1995 Turf for Charles Cella and Ron McAnally," said de Seroux.
"That got the monkey off our back, although we had several other near hits," she continued. "The first was Strawberry Road, who almost beat Pebbles in the 1985 Turf. Narvick bought Trempolino a week before he won the Arc in 1987, and he came back to run second to Theatrical in the Turf. And Palace Music finished second twice in the Mile (although disqualified to ninth for interference in 1985, before missing by a head to Last Tycoon in 1986)."
De Seroux recalled Breeders' Cup conversations with Whittingham, who won the Classic twice with Ferdinand in 1987 and Sunday Silence in 1989.
"Charlie agonized so after pre-entering Greinton for both the Classic and Turf in 1985," she recalled. "He went back and forth and finally went in the Turf because of impending rain which never came. He gambled and lost. A mile and a half was not Greinton's best distance and he finished seventh. It was an agonizing experience. I think he could have beaten Proud Truth in the Classic."
Agony turned to ecstasy when Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer in the 1989 Classic to clinch Horse of the Year honors.
"I was so happy for Charlie," said de Seroux. "He thought before the race he had Sunday Silence just right and he thought that Easy Goer prepping in The Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1½ miles (that year) might take away a little from his speed. As usual, he was right."
De Seroux has been right a high percentage of times in 2002. Asked what she thought Whittingham might have said about her breakthrough year, de Seroux smiled and replied, "Well done, Laura Bird."
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