Serengeti Empress’ gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) topped off a huge Friday at Churchill Downs that saw Kentucky-breds win five of the six graded races on the card, including both Grade 1’s.
A few hours before the Oaks, She’s a Julie was an impressive winner of the $500,000 La Troienne S. (G1) for trainer Steve Asmussen and an ownership team led by Whispering Oaks Farm. Both Serengeti Empress and She’s a Julie had prior graded stakes wins, but in both cases, Friday’s scores were there first at the highest level.
Serengeti Empress sprang out of the gate and took a lead she would never relinquish. Up by as much as three lengths midway through the race, she came home by nearly two lengths to become racing’s newest millionaire after the $705,250 payday. Serengeti Empress, a by Alternation out of the Bernardini mare Havisham, was bred by Tri Eques Bloodstock.
In the La Troienne, She’s a Julie won the 1 1/16-mile contest from just off the pace, collaring Secret Spice in deep stretch to win by a half-length. Winner of six of 13 starts, including a trio of Grade 3’s before today, She’s a Julie has earned $878,130. Bred by Godolphin, the filly is by Elusive Quality out of Kydd Gloves, a sister to Sorrento S. (G3) winner Untouched Talent.
Kicking off the day’s graded action was Break Even in the Eight Belles S. (G2). Now undefeated in four starts, Break Even cruised to a 5 1/2-length win in the seven-furlo ng contest for 3-year-old fillies. This was her first graded stakes win. She is owned by her breeder Richard Klein and is by Country Day out of Exotic Wager.
In the grassy Edgewood S. (G3), Concrete Rose upset heavily favored Newspaperofrecord (IRE) to win the 1 1/16-mile race by nearly 4 lengths. Bred by Ron Patterson, the 3-year-old filly owned by Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing had previously won the Jessamine S. (G2) and Florida Oaks (G3).
One of the most impressive wins on the day came via McKinzie in the $400,000 Alysheba S. (G2). The multiple Grade 1 winner was simply too good for his competition and won by 4 3/4-lengths in 1:41.10, just .06 seconds off the track record. Trained by Bob Baffert for Weitman, Pegram and Watson, McKinzie was bred by Summerwind Farm and has earned $1,483,560.
Racing action continues Saturday at Churchill Downs with the 145th Kentucky Derby (G1) anchoring a card that has seven graded stakes, including four Grade 1’s.