There will be interesting horse racing action at Oaklawn Park this weekend, as Grade 2 action for the fillies and mares headlines the card in Arkansas. This race has been staged since 1987, and a talented field of eight runners will go to post to compete over 1 1/16 miles for a share of the $400,000 purse on Saturday.

Race History & Records

The Azeri Stakes has been staged annually since 1987, but it was previously known as the Oaklawn Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap. It is run over a distance of 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, with fillies and mares aged four and older able to compete. It was upgraded to be a Grade 3 contest in 1990, before it was given Grade 2 status for the 2014 edition. 

There have been some notable winners of the race throughout history, including Havre De Grace, who would later land the G1 Woodward Stakes, and Midnight Bisou, who was later named the US Champion Older Female Horse.

Leading Contenders

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Bellamore represents the Steven Asmussen yard this weekend, and the six-year-old retains plenty of ability. She was last seen bouncing back to form to land the G3 Houston Ladies Classic in January, reaching a speed figure of 97. That was an important win for connections, as it ended a long winless sequence that stretched back to July 2022. 

It was also a first win in graded stakes company, and that could be a big benefit in this company on Saturday. However, given that she’s six, there could be more interesting up-and-coming contenders in this field.


Comparative could be a very likely winner in this company on Saturday for trainer Brad Cox. The four-year-old has improved with every start on track, and she already has big targets on her radar for 2024, with a run in the G1 Beholder Mile teased. 

Comparative was excellent on her previous start, getting the better of a talented field over course and distance to land the G3 Bayakoa Stakes with a speed rating of 96. That was her third successive win, and her second success in stakes company. She is an incredibly talented runner, and she should take all the beating this weekend.

Saddle Up Jessie

Brittany Russell’s runners are typically missed in the betting for big races, but she brings a high-class runner to Oaklawn this weekend in the form of Saddle Up Jessie. This five-year-old regularly hits speed figures in the 90s, which should be good enough to put her in the frame this weekend. 

Saddle Up Jessie bounced back from a sub-par performance in the Ladies Stakes on her previous start when scoring in the Heavenly Prize Stakes by a wide margin from Movie Moxy. She has won three from her last four starts, and the fact that she has previously won over further would be a plus in her favor.

Azeri Stakes Prediction

This should be an exciting race at Oaklawn Park this weekend, and there are some progressive runners involved. However, Cox’s Comparative looks the most exciting, and she could take a huge step forward in this company.

Pick: Comparative