(Trainer Tom Amoss has a group of fillies ready to go in Fair Grounds’ Stakes events / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

Should Tom Amoss win his 12th Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots trainer’s title, he’ll have an arsenal of 3-year-old fillies to thank. The New Orleans native currently sits atop the standings with the help of a talented group of sophomore fillies, and the streaking Li’l Tootsie could cap a banner meet should she handle the class rise in the March 20 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

Joel Politi’s Li’l Tootsie has been busy at the meet for Amoss. The daughter of Tapiture was second on debut in November before breaking her maiden in January. On February 12 she won her two-turn debut in an optional-claiming allowance and it was that effort that got Amoss thinking Oaks. Li’l Tootsie closed stoutly along the rail and won going away and that wasn’t necessarily the way it figured to play out on paper after she had raced close up in her two sprints.

“It was a very impressive two-turn debut for a number of reasons,” Amoss said. “Anybody that was handicapping and watching the race, knowing what she is, seeing her break, fall back, and then getting into stride late in the race. I don’t think that was expected by anyone. It was an unusual race in the sense that she was totally out of position of where I thought she would be, based on what she accomplished in her other races sprinting. Having said that, it was a very enjoyable outcome.”

Amoss and Politi teamed up and had some historic success with the since-retired Serengeti Empress, who won five graded stakes, including the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs in 2019 before ending her career when second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland in November. Li’l Tootsie is far less accomplished at this point, and would be making her stakes debut in the Fair Grounds Oaks, but Amoss knows you have to take a shot to see where you fit, since options can become limited.

“This time of year, if you have a horse that has won two races, boy or girl, it’s either stakes competition or sit in the barn,” Amoss said. “Allowance races don’t go beyond that first condition. Joel and I have already spoken, and we think with that successful transition to two turns, we think the Fair Grounds Oaks is going to be our next start, provided she stays healthy.”

Mineola Farm II and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Save won her debut here on New Year’s Day and made it 2-for-2 with an optional-claiming win February 16. The daughter of Violence got tested early and often in her second start and responded nicely to win going away by 1 ¼ lengths. Like Li’l Tootsie, Save is also likely in line for a rise in class for her next start.

“With Save, I think certainly we’re looking at stakes competition next but whether we stretch out to two turns or stay at one-turn, that’s still to be determined,” Amoss said. “Her race was certainly workmanlike but you have to look beyond that and what’s going into these races and what these horses are trying to accomplish.”

Amoss already tested the best 3-year-old fillies on the grounds with a trio from his barn in the February 13 Rachel Alexandra (G2), though the results were a mixed bag. Politi’s Littlestitious was best of the lot, running fourth, about 7 lengths behind the top-2 Clairiere and Travel Column, while Cosmic Racing’s Zoom Up was seventh, and B.C.W.T.’s Off We Go was well-beaten and last-of-8. As with all lightly race horses, Amoss knows there will be ups and downs, and a lot of adjustments, while trying to figure out where they all belong.

“Littlestitious finished the best of the three and she showed she’s a good horse, but she’s not where those other fillies are that ran in front of her at this stage, particularly the top-2 finishers,” Amoss said. “It’s a growing process, a developmental process. A lot could change in the next few months from where they are right now. Each of those horses will stand on their own merits and what we do with each of them will be a decision between the owners and myself (about where they will run in the next).”