The rags-to-riches story of multiple stakes winner Martini Glass is scheduled to continue in the $ 350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares March 17 at Oaklawn, co-owner/trainer Keith Nations said Thursday afternoon.
Martini Glass had been under consideration for the $ 225,000 Hillsborough Stakes (G2), a 1 1/8-mile grass race Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, before Nations opted for the 1 1/16-mile Azeri, the final major local prep for the $ 700,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 13.
“The dirt versus turf obviously mattered,” Nations said. “The Hillsborough came up really tough. There’s just not one or two horses. There’s four or five horses that can really run in there. Not that there won’t be in the Azeri, but it is a surface that I think she’s a little better on.”
Claimed out of a career debut victory for $ 16,000 in February 2016 at Tampa Bay Downs, Martini Glass has a 9-5-2 record from 22 starts and earnings of $ 653,675. She finished second to champion Songbird in last year’s $ 750,000 Delaware Handicap (G1) at Delaware Park and second in the $ 500,000 Spinster Stakes (G1) last year at Keeneland.
Martini Glass is coming off a dirt victory in her last start, the $ 200,000 Royal Delta Stakes (G3) Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park, under Paco Lopez, who will have the mount for the Azeri, Nations said.
Martini Glass worked a half-mile in :47.20 Friday at Tampa Bay Downs.
Also scheduled to run in the Azeri are defending champion Streamline, multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Terra Promessa, Sandy’s Surprise and Tiger Moth, winner of the $ 400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) Jan. 28 at Sam Houston in her last start. Martini Glass finished third in the race.
Sandy’s Surprise, fourth in the Houston Ladies Classic, worked a bullet 5 furlongs (:59.40) before the renovation break Saturday morning for trainer Doug O’Neill, who said in a text that the 4-year-old daughter of Drosselmeyer was headed for the Azeri.
Nominations to the Azeri closed Friday, with post positions to be drawn Wednesday.
Nations’ only Oaklawn starter, Morning Fire, finished fourth in the $ 150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters in 2016.
In addition to the Azeri, the blockbuster March 17 card will feature the $ 900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds and the $ 300,000 Essex Handicap for older horses.