Photo: Bee Buck Photography
Serengeti Empress, who won the Ellis Park Debutante by 13 1/2 lengths last out, proved that effort was no fluke on Saturday as she made easy work of her competition in Churchill Downs’ Grade 2, $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes.
The Tom Amoss-trained daughter of Alternation took advantage of an inside post position, cutting the corner to take a lead into the first turn, and went on to win for fun, distancing to an open-lengths victory under the Twin Spires.
“I was just a passenger,” said jockey Corey Lanerie, who’s won this race three of the last four years.
This victory earned Serengeti Empress both a “Win and You’re In” spot in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs and awarded Serengeti Empress the first batch of qualifying points toward the 2019 Kentucky Oaks.
She whipped through opening fractions of 23.17 for the quarter mile and 46.94 for the half as rival Taylor’s Spirit tried to keep up. The winner left that one behind through the turn and unleashed at the top of the stretch, hitting the wire under a hand ride.
“We are very excited,” Amoss said. “We know we have a nice filly, and we hope we keep her healthy all the way to November. Nothing would be greater than to win a race like the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies right here in our own backyard.”
It was well back to Splashy Kisses and Lightscameraaction.
Serengeti Empress was every bit of a favorite in the field of 11. Off at 4-5, she looked like 1-9.
Campaigned by Joel Politi, Serengeti Empress improved her record to 3-0-0 in four career starters.
“I’ve been coming to the races since I was 5 years old,” Politi said, “and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s been quite a great experience so far — the whole ride — and we’ll go as far as we can with her.”