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Azeri bought back for $4.4m at Keeneland

AZERI, a US Horse of the Year offered in-foal to another Horse of the Year in Ghostzapper, failed to change hands atthe Keeneland January horses of all ages sale yesterday.

The star attraction of the auction was consigned by John Sikura's Hill 'N' Dale Sales Agency on behalf of the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust. The same combination offered Azeri's first foal, the A.P. Indy colt Vallenzeri, who set an auction record price without the reserve being reached when failing to sell for $7.7m in the Keeneland September yearling sale last year.

Confusion reigns as to who the underbidders for Azeri were. The Bloodhorse reported that Sikura and his father-in-law Edward McGhee tried to secure the 11-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter, but stopped "at around $4m".

Ray Paulick wrote on his blog The Paulick Report that Coolmore's Paul Shanahan "bid at least $3.5m". The Thoroughbred Times said that they had been told that representatives of Darley had not tried to buy the mare, but that view is contradicted by The Bloodhorse, which cites an onlooker at the sale who claims they saw Jimmy Bell of Darley America "nodding at a bid spotter right before the price for Azeri soared to $4.3m".

Azeri won 17 of her 24 starts to earn over $4m in prize-money. Five Grade 1 wins in 2002, including a victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, earned her US Horse of the Year honours that season.




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