Serengeti Empress Romps in Pocahontas Stakes


Photo: Coady Photography
Serengeti Empress pulls away from the field in the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs

Joel Politi's Serengeti Empress followed one dominating effort with another Sept. 15 at Churchill Downs.

Less than a month after she romped by 13 1/2 lengths in the Ellis Park Debutante, the 2-year-old Alternation  filly was even more impressive in the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2).

After a good break from the rail under jockey Corey Lanerie, Serengeti Empress quickly went to the early lead and set fractions of :23.17, :46.94, and 1:12.20 through six furlongs.

At that point the dark bay had built her lead to two lengths, and it only got wider as she came out of the second turn. As the rest toiled behind, Serengeti Empress cruised on the front and pulled away effortlessly. At the furlong pole she was eight lengths in front. At the wire the margin was 19 1/2, and she finished off the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.47.

"When you have a horse like this, it's easy to be the passenger," Lanerie said. "It's a credit to (winning trainer) Tom (Amoss) and his team, because this filly has done everything right. When I came back and saw the fractions and how quick we went up front, I really couldn't believe it. That's when you know you're sitting on a good horse—when they can travel as quickly as they do without you realizing it."

The battle for second was won by Southern California shipper Splashy Kisses, who came in 1 1/2 lengths ahead of longshot Lightscameraaction. My Wynter Rose, Love My Honey, Include Edition, Profound Legacy, Taylor's Spirit, Two Dozen Roses, Tapping Pearl, and Saved at Dawn completed the order of finish.

"She ran dynamite (to break her maiden) at Del Mar, so I thought we'd give her a try in this spot," said Splashy Kisses' trainer, Doug O'Neill. "We just ran into an unbelievably gifted filly. I'm proud of how our horse handled everything today."

After the race Amoss looked ahead at his filly's toughest test yet.

"She's such a pro with how she handles things in training," the trainer said. "We'll just let her be her until the (grade 1) Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Fillies) and I think we'll be just fine."

Bred in Kentucky by Tri Eques Bloodstock out of the Bernardini  mare Havisham, Serengeti Empress now has three wins from four starts and $187,870 in earnings. She was a $70,000 purchase by Politi from Brookdale Sales consignment to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017.

Video: Pocahontas S. (G2)