News and STORIES

Horse Racing News and Notes: April 24, 2019

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday April 24, 2019

Liked What He Saw
Trainer Tom Amoss needed to see a solid workout Tuesday to convince him that his star filly Serengeti Empress was ready to enter the starting gate of the Kentucky Oaks. The veteran conditioner got just that as dawn broke underneath the Twin Spires with the daughter of Alternation galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.60 under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Serengeti Empress looked like a clear winner at the top of the stretch in her last start, the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), but faded to last when she bled through Lasix, blocking her airways, necessitating her being vanned off and calling into question her future race plans.

“Her short-term racing career was certainly on hold,” Amoss told “We’ve now worked her twice at Churchill Downs. Today’s work by any standard — whether the fact that it was in company or how quick it was — lets you know that we let her exert today. We wanted to see again whether she bled. She did not. That’s really good news.”

Simon Callaghan trainee Bellafina figures to garner much of the attention heading into the Oaks and could very well be the favorite at post time. However, the health of Serengeti Empress adds a different dimension to the proceedings as Amoss’ trainee will dart right to lead.

After breaking her maiden convincingly at Indiana Downs, Serengeti Empress was thrown into the proverbial deep end of the pool, finishing fourth in the Schuylerville at Saratoga before winning the Ellis Park Debutante and Pocahontas at Churchill Downs. Her 2-year old campaign closed with a 7-place showing in the Breeder’s Cup juvenile fillies underneath the Twin Spires.

“A far as how the race plays out, there’s no secret what we’re going to do. We’re going straight to the front,” Amoss revealed to

Money Was Flowing in West Virginia
Horses from coast to coast invaded the backside of West Virginia’s Charles Town Race Course in preparation for the $1M Charles Town Classic, a premier race for older horses. When the dust settled, however, a horse that calls the track home year-round captured the imagination of local race fans and crossed the wire first. Owned and trained by Danny Grams and Charles Town-based rider Oscar Flores, Runnin’toloveya overtook Diamond King at the top of the short lane and won, rewarding bettors beliefs by paying $21.80 to win. The son of Fiber Sonde now has 12 wins from 16 starts.

“It just means so much to me to be able to represent the West Virginia program like this,” Grams told Charles Town publicity. “I really wanted him to represent us well and I think he did a lot better than that today. I know this sounds corny but this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me besides me meeting my wife 18 years ago. This is just unbelievable, especially for a country boy that didn’t have anything. It means anybody who walks through this gate here has a chance and that’s why this business is so great.”

Anchored by Saturday’s Classic, which produced a single day wagering mark given the national interest in the race, the track was able to also set a new monthly record as handle per race for April checked in at $203,681, marking the first time more than $200,000 has been bet per race over a given month in the track’s history.

Prior to April 2015, Charles Town had yet to record a month where north of $150,000 in wagering was generated per race but has now seen eight such months in the prior four years. Much like the month of April as a whole, the Charles Town Classic day easily reached past the prior record for the largest single card handle as players wagered $5,720,374 over the 13-race program.