Checking In: On Serengeti Empress, Mr. Money & Dennis’ Moment

(Serengeti Empress winning the 2019 KY Oaks / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

The Breeders’ Cup may not have gone exactly as planned for some of Kentucky’s finest spirits on Breeders’ Cup Day.

While Covfefe and Mitole ran off with their respective races and sealed their Championship seasons with wins at Santa Anita on the first weekend in November, some of the Commonwealth’s best and most talented Thoroughbreds didn’t fare as well.

They fought hard. They ran harder. But they either ran out of gas or luck. Maybe both.

There is Serengeti Empress, winner of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. She made the lead and kept it for much of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, one of the toughest and deepest fields in the history of the event. She wheeled into the stretch still holding off the likes of Midnight Bisou, winner of all 7 of her Stakes events this year, and two-time G1 Spinster Stakes winner Blue Prize. But Serengeti, try as she might, did tire towards the end of the 11/8-mile event. On courage and guts alone, she managed to finish third and in front of a bunch of good ones. A great finish to a great year.

There is Mr. Money, this year’s Summer Sensation in the 3YO division. He rolled into the Breeders’ Cup Mile off 4 wins and a tough-beat second in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby. And, he looked to be one of the top choices to knock off the superstar Omaha Beach. For the first part of the race, Mr. Money looked to be in just the right stalking position to do just that. Yet, instead of closing fast, he faded quickly as they entered the stretch and ran 7th. Still, a great year. No doubt.

And, then there’s the story of Dennis’ Moment. He came into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as one of the most highly touted and respected 2YO colts in history. He came into the race as the prominent candidate for next year’s Kentucky Derby. He came into the race as the horse to watch. For sure.

You never got the chance to watch.

He never got the chance to run.

Dennis’ Moment never got to run a single step. Truly. Not even one. As soon as the gate popped for the 11/16-mile event, Dennis’ Moment stumbled badly as the dirt underneath him broke away. It was amazing that the youngster was able to right himself. Even more amazing that rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. was able to stay aboard. But they were never able to mount a serious run or bid. Still, a great youngster. With a great future.

On this cold, chilly, snowy Tuesday morn, we decided to warm up with a few warmer thoughts and we checked in on three of our most favorite horses in all of 2019. And, check with the trainers and connections, who have been so generous with both their time and comments.

The horses are spectacular.

So are the people.

And, here’s what we have found out:

(Serengeti Empress / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Serengti Empress:

According to trainer and overall good guy, Tom Amoss, the speedball filly — who has both a heart of gold and mind of steel — is getting a little time off in Ocala, FL., right now.

“She is in Ocala. Healthy. Will start back in training Jan. 1,” said Amoss.

(Mr. Money / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Mr. Money:

Like Serengeti, this son of Goldencents is getting a breather.

“He (Mr. Money) is turned out, just giving him a little break,” said trainer W. Bret Calhoun, one of the most accomplished and affable people to ever train a horse. “(He) came back very good, just tired.”

On another note, By My Standards, winner of the 2019 Louisiana Derby, is back in training with Calhoun at their winter home in New Orleans.

“By My Standards is at the Fair Grounds, and will start breezing in a couple of weeks. All is good,” said Calhoun.

(Dennis’ Moment / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Dennis’ Moment:

Like both Serengeti and Mr. Money, Dennis’ Moment is getting a little “down town,” according to Jason Loutsch — a primary partner, advisor and son-in-law to the Albaugh Family Stables and patriarch-namesake Dennis Albaugh. (And, one of the nicest groups of people in the entire world, much less the Thoroughbred industry).

“He’s doing good. Little 45-day break, which was planned before the race,” wrote Loutsch in a direct message this morning. “(He will) ship to Florida in a month. Long time till Feb (the start of the race to the 2020 Triple Crown season) tho.”

 

 

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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