NEW ORLEANS, LA – Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress burst from the gate on top and was never even close to challenged en route to ravaging her foes in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Breaking from post 3 as the 8/5 favorite under James Graham, Serengeti Empress quickly hustled up to take command and post unpressured fractions of :24.02, :47.81, and 1:12.45. Beginning to clear away as she exited the far turn, Serengeti Empress kicked away impressively before being geared down inside the final furlong. The Tom Amoss trainee crossed under a light jog with a 4 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:44.74 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“Her cruising gear is so good,” Graham said. “You watch her races from Ellis Park and from Churchill, she bounces along on the front end and travels through her races beautifully. She put them to bed turning for home. She did it the right way. She’s a little aggressive, but she’s fast.”
Liora was no match for the winner but was the best of the rest, taking second by 1 1/4 lengths over Eres Tu. Fourth went to Street Band, while Oxy Lady, Molto Bella, and Positive Spirit completed the order of finish. Bell’s the One and Chasing Yesterday were scratched.
The Rachel Alexandra is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Serengeti Empress earned 50 points for the win, with Liora receiving 20 for second, Eres Tu 10 for third, and Street Band 5 for fourth.
Serengeti Empress’ win was a return to form after finishing a disappointing seventh in early November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The 3-year-old daughter of Alternation carries a record of 6-4-0-0 with $327,870 bankrolled.
“She is very naturally quick and that helps her cause a great deal,” Amoss said. “Certainly, this racetrack helped her cause. Having said that, I think that was a really good performance by a filly that a lot of people questioned whether she legitimately wanted to go a lot of ground. She took it to them today right out of the gate and it was fun to watch.”
Serengeti Empress’ logical next step, the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, is a familiar one for her trainer: Amoss won last year’s edition with Chocolate Martini.
“I sure want to run there,” Amoss said. “I want to defend our title!”
Serengeti Empress returned $5.80 to win, $4 to place, and $3.60 to show. Liora brought back $16.20 to place and $9.80 to show, while Eres Tu paid $7 to show.