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Friday, October 25, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473
$2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (Grade I)
Azeri -- Michael Paulson and jockey Mike Smith joined trainer Laura de Seroux in front of the Distaff favorite's stall in Barn 12 Friday.
Paulson's wife, Lenora, fed the 4yo filly a peppermint candy, and her husband -- executor of the Allen Paulson Living Trust that owns the horse -- had even sweeter news for racing fans.
"To get a mare like her, I've got to keep her going," said Paulson-son of Allen Paulson vowing that he will keep her in training next year at 5. "It would be a shame to retire her."
De Seroux updated regular rider Smith, just arrived from California, about Azeri's recent training. "She grabbed Nuno (exercise rider Nuno Santos) this morning and said 'I want to practice' and just flew over it," said de Seroux of a gallop of 1 ¼ miles after the break. "She's ready to go."
Smith expressed confidence that Azeri will uphold her role as favorite. "If she gets away and runs her race, I don't think the post will make any difference," said Smith. "I just try to get out of her way."
Farda Amiga -- Trainer Paulo Lobo had 3yo filly Farda Amiga out for a mile and a quarter gallop Friday morning. Co-owner Jose DeCamargo was also on hand for the exercise session and was undaunted by the sloppy condition of the track, citing that her Alabama win came over a track listed as "good."
"I think she would love the mud!" DeCamargo exclaimed.
Lobo brought Farda Amiga to the Arlington Park paddock for schooling with the third race entrants on Friday afternoon.
Imperial Gesture -- Godolphin Racing's Imperial Gesture galloped a mile and a quarter Friday morning in her first venture over the Arlington Park main track. She arrived from New York on Thursday afternoon.
Jerry Bailey, who has ridden Imperial Gesture to two daylight victories the only times he has been aboard, has the call Saturday.
"She is doing very good," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. "She needs to be in good position, up close (to have the best chance to win)."
Imperial Gesture, runner-up in last year's Juvenile Fillies, never has raced on an off track.
"I hope for no rain tomorrow. I prefer it to be dry," bin Suroor said. "I think she will be OK (on any surface)."
Mandy's Gold -- Trainer Michael Gorham sent Mandy's Gold to the track for an easy gallop on Friday in preparation for Saturday's race. The 4yo Gilded Time filly is one of only two fillies to hold a victory over an off track and at Arlington Park.
Starrer -- Though her record shows no races on an off track, the 4 yo Dynaformer filly took unusually well to Friday morning's rain-soaked main track, according to assistant trainer Michelle Jensen, who was aboard for a 1 1/8-mile jog.
Trainer John Shirreffs, who arrived at Arlington Park Thursday, was on hand for the exercise. The filly, owned by movie theater mogul George Krikorian, will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela and has a career record of three wins, five seconds and three thirds in 16 lifetime starts, with $541,033 in earnings.
Summer Colony -- Edward Evans' Summer Colony paid her first visit to the Arlington Park track Friday morning, jogging a mile and then galloping a mile and eighth under regular exercise rider Jose Sanchez.
The Summer Squall filly shipped in to Arlington on Thursday afternoon from her home base in New York for trainer Mark Hennig. John Velazquez has the call Saturday and will break from post position 2.
Summer Colony has not raced on an off track since May 27, 2001, in her fourth career start.
"Obviously, I would rather run over a normal track for safety and to get an honest race," Hennig said. "She has always handled a track with moisture in it. She has handled most any track we have thrown at her. I get the impression she will handle it fine. We wanted to make sure we gave her a good gallop over it today, in case we get this Saturday."
Hennig was asked what the key would be to success for Summer Colony in the Distaff, the race that kicks off the eight-race Championship series of races.
"I think we have to have some racing luck and I think we will have to get a little help in there," Hennig said. "There is a tendency to let one horse slip away at times in these races, but the way I see it on paper, I don't see that happening.
"I think the race sets up well for her."
Take Charge Lady -- The 3-to-1 second choice for the Distaff from post eight took her first spin over the Arlington track Friday morning one day after arriving by van from Churchill Downs. Under assistant trainer Helen Pitts, Take Charge Lady galloped 1 ¼ miles over the main track.
"She went super," said Pitts. "She got over the track very well."
Take Charge Lady has a win and a second over a sloppy track, including a five-length victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks in March.
Two Item Limit -- Running in the Distaff for the second consecutive year, Two Item Limit appears ready for her engagement on Saturday. The Illinois-bred jogged and galloped Friday morning over a sloppy track.
She has fared well in the past racing over "off" tracks, having broken her maiden in her debut race over muddy conditions at Gulfstream Park. Two Item Limit ran second in the 2000 Adirondack at Saratoga in the "slop," was second in the 2001 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita over a 'wet-fast' track, and came in fourth in this year's Shuvee at Belmont over 'good' going.
Arlington Park's leading rider Rene Douglas has the return mount on Two Item Limit. He rode her to victory in her last race, the Unique Type Handicap here at a flat mile.
"It's not an easy race, maybe the toughest on the card," said Douglas Friday morning. "She's doing very good...I worked her twice and I don't think she's ever done any better. What I like about her is that she's been here for about a month and she likes this track. The other fillies, you don't know how they're going to react to the track.
"I'm going to ride her normal style. Her best races are when she's like 10 lengths behind. I'm not going to rush her to be close early...that would be crazy," he said.
Douglas has another Breeders' Cup mount on Saturday: Boston Common in the Mile. The Panama-born jockey is 0-for-5 in Breeders' Cup events, with his best finish coming in the 1995 Distaff aboard Forested, who was fourth.
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Thursday, October 24, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473
$2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (Grade I)
Azeri -- The 4yo filly galloped about 1 ¼ miles after the break Thursday morning under exercise rider Nuno Santos for the Distaff. Alfredo Garcia is her groom.
"I don't think the track will be bad, but if it is off, Jade Hunters have an affinity for mud," said trainer Laura de Seroux of the Jade Hunter filly, who has run on fast tracks in all 10 of her starts.
"I'm happy with post 4," she added. "There is no speed inside of us. The other speed is to the outside."
De Seroux thinks Azeri should earn Horse of the Year honors if she wins Saturday. "But it's up to you guys," she said to a group of media gathered outside Barn 12. "She has never been in danger of losing any race that she won. She carried weight. Her only loss was in her first stakes start when she had excuses.
"I concentrated on giving her a good solid campaign," continued de Seroux in response to planning her year. "I was always concerned about her development and remaining sound. I didn't want to break her heart.
"I thought it would be wonderful to win the Distaff and finish as great a year as she has had," said de Seroux of the filly's quest for a seventh straight victory.
"I learned a lot from Charlie (legendary trainer Charlie Whittingham, for whom she exercised horses for 17 years) about traveling," concluded de Seroux. "He (traveled) when he had to. I like to see her paper now and see all those 1's."
Farda Amiga -- Kentucky Oaks and Alabama winner Farda Amiga galloped a mile and an eighth Thursday morning and trainer Paulo Lobo is content with what he sees so far.
"She's doing very well...I think she likes it here," Lobo said. "I think the filly is going to run a great race. I'm very confident.
"I studied the race and find that it's better to have the inside post position - we're number three - than the outside. I think it's good. There are going to be three fillies to take the early position: Azeri, Imperial Gesture and Take Charge Lady. It's going to be a very fast race. And my filly has one running style, to come from off the pace, and we won't change that," he said.
Lobo calls Farda Amiga a very kind horse who likes people. "She is like a pet."
She will gallop Friday morning and is expected to go to the track at 7:30 a.m.
Jose DeCamargo, one of the owners of Farda Amiga, was surprised to see the filly assigned 12-1 odds on the morning line.
"I am not a gambling man," DeCamargo said. "But at those odds, I may have to make a bet."
Imperial Gesture -- Godolphin Racing's Imperial Gesture, wire-to-wire winner of the Gazelle and Beldame in her last two starts, was scheduled to arrive at Arlington Park from New York Thursday afternoon.
The Langfuhr filly will break from post position 5 under Jerry Bailey. Imperial Gesture is 4-1 on the morning line.
Mandy's Gold -- The Beldame runner-up and only one behind favorite Azeri to never have finished worse than third during her career, jogged 1 ¼ miles and then galloped 1 ½ miles at Arlington on Thursday morning in preparation for the Distaff.
"The weather's not a concern," said trainer Michael Gorham as a light rain fell at Arlington. "Nothing seems to bother this filly. She'll do anything you want. We've got a great post position with all the speed to the inside of us."
Starrer -- With assistant trainer Michelle Jensen in the irons, the 4yo daughter of Dynaformer galloped 1 1/4 miles Thursday morning on the main track.
Jensen said the filly handled the going well during the showery morning exercise, adding that any kind of an off track would not bother Starrer.
Trainer John Shirreffs is expected to arrive at Arlington Park later Thursday.
Summer Colony -- Edward Evans' Summer Colony, never worse than third in seven career starts at the Distaff distance of a mile and an eighth, was scheduled to arrive at Arlington Park on Thursday afternoon from her home base in New York.
John Velazquez, who has ridden Summer Colony to seven of her nine victories, has the call Saturday on the Summer Squall filly, who drew post position 2 for the Distaff. Summer Colony is 5-1 on the morning line.
Take Charge Lady -- Select Stable's 3yo Dehere filly galloped Thursday morning at her Churchill Downs base and then prepared for her van ride to Arlington Park. She was scheduled to arrive by Sallee Van around 5:00 p.m.
Take Charge Lady has won five of seven starts this year with two seconds, including an impressive 2 ½-length victory in Keeneland's Spinster Stakes on Oct. 6.
"She's doing super," said trainer Kenny McPeek. "We're ready."
Two Item Limit -- Joseph Graffeo's Two Item Limit jogged and galloped at Arlington Park Thursday morning and will do the same on Friday in her final preparations for the Distaff. The 4yo filly by Twining is considered to be the local hope in the race as she is an Illinois bred and was twice selected Illinois-bred Horse of the Year. She won her last race over the course on Sept. 14.
Two Item Limit drew post number one for the race and was listed at 30-1 on the morning line. She was 32-1 in last year's Distaff and finished third despite having a bad start.
Graffeo, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., will attend the Breeders' Cup, but he has to leave his wife, Gina, behind as she is expecting a baby, who is due on Christmas day.
"She really wants to go," said Graffeo, "but it is just impossible for her to make the trip."
Gina has more than simply a wife's interest in Graffeo's racing stable. She is hailed as the family pedigree expert who plans the breedings of the broodmares that reside on Graffeo's 100-acre Hickory Lane Farm in Ocala, Fla.
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Monday and Tuesday notes
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