by Jerry Shottenkirk
March 23, 2019
Much of the time when we see large margins of victory, it’s often because of a sloppy track and one horse favors the footing over the others.
And sometimes horses are just dominant. That’s the case with Serengeti Empress, whose appearance in the Grade 2 $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Saturday is a nice lead-in to the Grade 2 $1 million Louisiana Derby, which follows. That pair has all the makings of an exciting late Daily Double, but as usual, we’re in this for the Pick 4, which includes four stakes races and has a $500,000 pool guarantee.
Trainer Tom Amoss has seen Serengeti Empress dominate in four wins – with a total margin of 42 lengths – and has witnessed a big fade in two others. Her only start of 2019 produced a 4.5-length win in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds, as she set all the pace, opened up six lengths in the stretch and coasted in for the win. She had trained well over the New Orleans surface and ran up to expectations. Fillies that have an interest to setting the pace will probably pay the price.
Should it not be Serengeti Empress’s day, a fast pace would probably be the reason. In the event of serious company for the favorite, Liora, who ran second to her in the Rachel Alexandra, can make a late run.
War of Will is the favorite for the Louisiana Derby, but it’s a competitive spot and worthy of spreading out. Country House had a chance to get past War of Will in the stretch of the Risen Star Stakes but lugged in and just could not right the ship, although clear of Roiland in third. War of Will and Country House have the best chance of Fair Grounds-based horses, and Sueno and Bankit are Oaklawn shippers that could have a hand in the outcome. Sueno was a closing second to Super Steed in the Southwest Stakes and prior to that was Gunmetal Gray in the Sham at Santa Anita. Bankit, fifth in the Southwest, was second in Remington Park’s Springboard Mile behind stablemate and eventual Rebel Stakes winner Long Range Toddy.
Here’s the suggested ticket for the $500,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 at Fair Grounds:
Race 10) #2 Lone Sailor, #3 Souper Tapit, #6 Silver Dust, #10 Copper Bullet, #11 Ceaore Beliefs.
Race 11) #1 Hot Springs, #3 Synchrony, #7 Bricks and Mortar.
Race 12) #2 Serengeti Empress, #8 Liora.
Race 13) #4 Sueno, #6 War of Will, #8 Country House, #9 Bankit.
50-cent Pick 4: 2-3-6-10-11 with 1-3-7 with 2-8 with 4-6-8-9 ($60).