Azeri Stakes Preview: Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Grade II Race @OP

A short, but salty field, including Letruska (pictured above), is drawn into the Grade II Azeri Stakes. See J.N. Campbell's analysis below... (courtesy of Coady)
A short, but salty field, including Letruska (pictured above), is drawn into the Grade II Azeri Stakes. See J.N. Campbell's analysis below... (courtesy of Coady)

1 1/16th (Dirt), Azeri Stakes (G2), Purse $350k, F&M 4+

It is roll call now for older fillies and mares, and a member of this group is slated for Azeri Stakes glory. Last year, Serengeti Empress was crowned as the latest celebrated member of the club. With Joe Talamo serving as pilot, she sprinted to a sizable lead, and never looked back, getting her revenge on Lady Apple, who bested her in the Houston Ladies Classic. Now, a new set of rivalries are set to ensue, as a small, but strong group circumvents the track in Hot Springs.

Now, let’s find out about this field…

#1 Envoutante (Jky: B. Hernandez/Trn: K. McPeek):

Trainer Kenny McPeek sends this daughter of Uncle Mo back into action for the start of her 4-yr-old campaign. At the end of 2020, she finished with a flourish in the Remington Park Oaks (G3) and the Falls City (G2) @CD. Coming from the same barn as Swiss Skydiver means that you play second fiddle to one of the best fillies McPeek has ever trained. This one is classy and quite accomplished. She is going to give this group all they can handle, if she is running on all cylinders. It looks like she has trained well, down at Gulfstream Park and is ready for duty. Brian Hernandez gets the call again… last out he won by 6-lengths in a romp. Do over?

Grade: B+


#2 Motion Emotion (Jky: R. Santana/Trn: S. Asmussen):

I am not sure where this daughter of Take Charge Indy is when it comes to her level of fitness. Steve Asmussen took over for Richard Baltas back in August, and when she came off the bench in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) against Letruska #3, who is entered here, she failed to impress. The folks at MyRacehorse acquired a 51% stake in her, along with Spendthrift Farm, and they are all hoping for better in here. This is her chance to show us all some of that magic that she harnessed as a 3-yr-old, and now, with Ricardo Santana riding, she could make an emphatic statement. Time to strike while the iron is hot! Santana is just the man to fan those flames!

Grade: C+


#3 Letruska (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: F. Gutierrez):

This 5-yr-old mare, a daughter of Super Saver, is in my Top Ten when it comes to North American racehorses. She was uber-impressive in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3), drawing away up front with such grace and also, power. Fausto Gutierrez has himself one solid runner after a 2020 campaign that saw her take on some of the best in the division. The distance in this race @OP should suit her well, and fully expect the addition of jockey Joel Rosario, once again, after that ride he gave her in the Shuvee (G3) last summer at Saratoga, to be a plus, plus. Her works look fab, and I would give her a big chance to move up with a win here. She is just an absolute monster, and has the gears to back it up.

Grade: A


#4 Getridofwhatailesu (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: B. Cox):

Drawn to the outside are both of Brad Cox’s runners. The first is a daughter of Ghostzapper who we saw score last out in the Pippin 150k @OP back on 23 Jan. She was furious, and quite fast down the lane that day. Her turn-of-foot on dirt was something to behold. I like her ability, but question if she is ready to take on some of these types. These are deeper “Graded” waters in here, and I fully expect for Javier Castellano to have his hands full. He is used to it, being a top-tier jock, and even though he is coming off of rehab after surgery, he should be in form, himself. Cox’s stable just continues to brim with talent, and this mare, who is making her second start of the year, has the opportunity to shine.

Grade: B-


#5 Shedaresthedevil (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: B. Cox):

Last, but certainly not least, another student of Cox arrives on the scene. You might have heard of her, since she won the Kentucky Oaks last year by beating Swiss Skydiver and Gamine. Certainly, the fact that she failed to score in the Spinster (G1) @KEE stands out, but that was a difficult field. Now, she's set for her 4-yr-old debut, and if anyone can have her ready for a spot like this one, it is Cox. His meteoric rise to fame actually did not happen overnight… it took courage, late nights and early mornings, and schooling with some of the best along the way to get to this point. There is no doubt this filly is talented, and will vie to be one of the most accomplished by year’s end. How she does here will not define the rest of her campaign. This is a really challenging spot to come into, but her… it’s Cox.

Grade: B


Join us Saturday for all of our OP selections! Should be a great set of races from Hot Springs!