Work Tab for Tuesday, April 23: Binoculars Focused On Serengeti Empress — Spectacular Work; KY Oaks May Be An Option

2/16/2019 – Jockey James Graham pilots Serengeti Empress into the stretch, then pulls away from the pack to win the 39th running of the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Britt Benson.

Every day, we scour the work tabs at racetracks all over the country.  We are looking for workouts that may be of interest and helpful to you — as both race fans and handicappers.  Some of the horses we will be tracking, you will know.  Some of them, you may not know — as of yet.  We will keep a keen eye and stopwatch to see who may be working well:

  1. Serengeti Empress, a 3YO daughter of Alternation and as talented as any 3YO filly in the country, worked today at Churchill Downs. And, she was brilliant. She went 5 furlongs in :58.20, which was the bullet move out of 30 to go the distance. It was her second breeze in the last two weeks. Seven days ago, she went a half mile in :47 flat — another bullet. These are the first two serious moves since she bled while leading — and on her way to winning — the FG Oaks. In 7 career starts, she has 4 wins — and most of them in spectacular fashion. She broke her maiden on debut at Indy Grand by 51/2 lengths. After running 4th in the G3 Schuylerville at Saratoga, she returned to win the Ellis Park Debutante by 131/2 lengths. Came right back to win the G2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Dons last September by a whopping 191/2 lengths. Ran 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to finish the 2018 campaign, but came back this year to win the G2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds by 41/2 lengths. Looked to be doing just the same in the Fair Grounds Oaks when she bled, and was adroitly pulled up by rider James Graham. Since then, trainer Tom Amoss has taken meticulous care of the speedy filly. Carefully and slowly brought her back. The last two works? Sensational. After the work today, I texted with Tom. This is what he had to say:

When asked about her work:

“Really well. We have discussed the (Kentucky) Oaks if she comes out of the work in good shape and continues to train well.”

That is spectacular news. Almost as good as the filly’s workout. This is one talented gal, and she has the speed to make every horse work for the win — including the grand Bellafina.

Here’s hoping that Serengeti is fully recovered and ready.

I’ll be cheering.

  1. Roiland, a 3YO son of Successful Appeal and trained by Tom Amoss, worked this morning at Churchill Downs. This one, who has a 2-1-1 record in just 8 starts to the career, went a maintenance-move half mile in :49.60. That was the 21st best time out of the first 46 to go that far. This one finished third to War of War in the G2 Risen Star and looked to have a shot at the Triple Crown races this year. Faltered in both the Louisiana Derby, and, most recently, the Lexington Stakes. Will rebound, for sure, with this barn’s expertise and be a force latter on. Don’t forget.
  2. Warrior’s Club, an old warrior for the Churchill Downs Racing Club and now a 5YO son of Warrior’s Reward, worked this morning at Churchill Downs for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Coming off a very nice second in both an allowance at Oaklawn Park on March 3 and a better second in the G3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on April 6, this one looks ready to fire at Churchill Downs on Derby Day 2019. Went an impressive half mile in :46.20 this morning, which was the bullet move out of the 46. Primed.
  3. Bound for Nowhere, a 5YO son of The Factor and trained by Wesley Ward, worked this morning over the turf course at Churchill Downs. He went 5 furlongs in 1:01.20. That was the 4th fastest time out of 11 to try the sod. In his 2019 debut, he ran second in the G2 Shakertown Stakes — closing fast at the wire. Look for more next time out. Undrafted, a 9YO now and a teammate of the previous for the Ward barn, also went over the turf. He covered the same amount of ground in 1:01.60. He has not raced in the afternoons since winning at Churchill Downs on Nov. 22. Couple of older warriors who look to make a splash this coming week, as well.
  4. Hot Springs, a 4YO Uncle Mo colt trained by Steve Asmussen for the Woodford Racing LLC, is coming off a 5th place finish in the 2019 debut in the G2 Muniz Memorial Handicap at the Fair Grounds on March 23. Before that, though, he won two Stakes events — including the G3 Commonwealth Turf — at Churchill Downs last Fall. Worked 5 furlongs today in 1:02 flat. That was 6th of the 11. Look for more next time out. Talent here.

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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