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Azeri faces Affluent, three others in Vanity Handicap

The Associated Press
Saturday June 22, 2002

INGLEWOOD — Azeri, who has made a strong case as North America’s top older female in training, will carry a career-high 125 pounds in Saturday’s $250,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park. 

Azeri, a 4-year-old filly trained by Laura DeSeroux, will be ridden by Mike Smith in the 61st running of the 1 1-8-mile race for fillies and mares. 

“She’s amazing,” Smith said. “Words just don’t describe her.” 

Azeri will spot her four rivals from six to 14 pounds. Others entered are Affluent, who will be ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye and is assigned 119 pounds, Starrer, Gary Stevens, 117, Collect Call, Alex Solis, 114, and Terna, Victor Espinoza, 111. 

Azeri has won six of her seven lifetime starts including three straight Grade I races and earned $727,240. She can add $150,000 with a victory in the Vanity. 

Affluent has trailed Azeri in their last three races, most recently the Milady Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 25. Azeri won that race by 3 1/2 lengths with Affluent second, and also beat Affluent by 1 3/4 lengths April 6 in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. 

A 4-year-old daughter of Affirmed, Affluent has won six of 15 lifetime starts and earned $997,080. 

Chris McCarron, who will end his 28-year riding career aboard Came Home in Sunday’s $100,000 Affirmed Handicap, was scheduled to ride Ask Me No Secrets in the Vanity, but trainer Dave Hofmans decided not to enter her after the horse developed a slight illness.