One of the most royal runners in the sport of kings today is no doubt Serengeti Empress. If you have a question about her ability to rule, simply watch her run. Her fleet feet and tremendous courage will tell why she has been crowned as a real race horse. But as is the case with any ruler, you prove your worth during those challenging times. This Empress will get that opportunity on June 27.
The Fleur de Lis has long been one of the top races for older females in the country. Run beneath the twin spires of Churchill Downs for the sixth straight year it is a Breeders’ Cup win and you’re in event in the Distaff division. Attracting seven salty runners with Serengeti Empress being one, the 45th running of the race promises to be a memorable one.
The main challenger for the Empress is likely to be Midnight Bisou. Trained by hall of famer Steve Asmussen, this five-year old mare has been ranked as the top older horse in the country since March and always shows up. Currently the 3 to 5 morning line favorite, Midnight is fully capable of striking here. Chocolate Kisses was the Honeybee Stakes heroine in 2019 and has finished in the money in 8 of 13 starts while Go Google Yourself has banked over $640,000 with 15 finishes in the top 3 from 20 lifetime starts. Motion Emotion, Red Dane, and Another Broad have combined for 10 lifetime wins and all could be part of a coup d’etat.
For Serengeti Empress, her battle plan is actually pretty simple. Hoping to have her do what she does best is the game plan her veteran trainer wants to implement,
“We want to break well and go to the lead,” says Empress conditioner Tom Amoss. “Joe Talamo has the mount and he knows we want to make the lead early and let her run out front.”
The challenge will certainly be there, but Amoss has plenty of proof his royalty can run at Churchill. Two of three lifetime starts at the Louisville oval have resulted in trips to the winner’s circle. Her last run there was a dynamic Downs dash that saw her lead gate to wire in the 2019 Kentucky Oaks.
Looking to rebound from a less than stellar performance in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park (11th) on April 18, Amoss believes his fantastic four-year old is ready to rule again.
“She’s been doing great since returning to Churchill,” says Amoss. “We are going to play catch me if you can and just see how it goes.”
The Fleur de Lis will go off as race 9 on a blockbuster day that features four other stakes races including the Stephen Foster for older males. Post time is expected to be 5:15 eastern and the Empress sits at 2 to 1 on the morning line.