Filly dispelled health concerns with win in the Oaks.
Empress with a wire-to-wire to win the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks by 1 3/4 lengths over Liora on Friday at Churchill Downs.
The start featured a scary moment when Positive Spirit fell down and threw jockey Manny Franco. Both horse and jockey were able to get up and leave the track without assistance. Serengeti Empress started from post 13 and took the lead by the first turn and kept it to the wire, despite Liora’s charge down the stretch.
Empress rebounded from a seventh-place run in the Fair Grounds Oaks, in which she was taken from the track with bleeding, to win the 145th running of the premier race for 3-year-old fillies. This was the filly’s second graded win in three starts this year and third overall in eight career races and gave her trainer Tom Amoss his first Kentucky Oaks victory.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Serengeti Empress covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.17 and paid $28, $14.80 and $9.60.
“She’s such a fast filly,” Ortiz said. “She took me to the front and she fought the entire way around there. … This is an incredible win.”