By Ryan Martin
• Amoss’ Graded Stakes Winners Return to Prepare for 2019
• Stidham Eyes Grade III Lecomte for Tackett
• Kennedy Getting Taste of Success at Fair Grounds
AMOSS’ GRADED STAKES WINNERS RETURN TO PREPARE FOR 2019
Blessed with a trio of graded stakes winners in 2018, trainer Tom Amoss knew when it was time to take his foot off the gas.
After brief freshenings, Grade II Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks winner Chocolate Martini, Grade II Pocahontas victoress Serengeti Empress and Grade III Oklahoma Derby champ Lone Sailor all recently returned to Amoss’ New Orleans base to prepare for what he’s confident will be highly successful 2019 campaigns.
According to Amoss, Lone Sailor will be pointed towards the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 23 and Serengeti Empress has her sights set on the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on the same day. Chocolate Martini is likely to make her 4-year-old debut at Oaklawn Park.
“They’re doing great,” Amoss said. “They’re probably anywhere from a month to a month and a half away from running. None of them had time off for any problems, they had time off because they had a hard campaign in 2018 and we’re counting on them to have a big campaign in 2019 so we gave them a little rest.”
Both Lone Sailor and Serengeti Empress got their freshening at GoldMark Farm in Ocala, Fla.
“It’s the Ritz-Carlton over there,” Amoss said. “Todd Quast runs the place and his assistant Lee (Guerrero) raised those horses. When I bought them at the sale, particularly Lone Sailor, they were in their care after the sale and they broke those horses so they have a special place in their heart. We’re happy to have them there for vacationing. As far as Chocolate Martini goes, she spent her time at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky so she had to keep her winter coat on while the other two got to put some sun tan oil on.”
A daughter of Broken Vow, Chocolate Martini was claimed by Amoss for $25,000 in February two starts before her victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She acquired more black type later on in the year with two third-place efforts in the Grade II Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita and the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. She is out of the two-time stakes-placed Successful Appeal broodmare Nicksappealinglady who also produced turf stakes winner Nicky’s Brown Miss. Chocolate Martini was a $65,000 purchase from Buckland Sales’ consignment operation at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016 and was bred in Kentucky by Savino A. Capilupi.
Owned by G M B Racing, Lone Sailor placed four times this year against graded stakes company and was a participant in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The son of Majestic Warrior finished a respective eighth and fifth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and Preakness Stakes (both Grade I) behind Justify.
Amoss believes that Lone Sailor is showing a vast amount of improvement since the beginning of his sophomore campaign and that one can except to see even more out of the horse in the New Year.
“I think his development is more of what you see on paper than what you see physically,” Amoss said. “He’s always been a good looking horse and a physically imposing horse. We’d like to think that mentally he’s catching up to that. I think the Oklahoma Derby was the first step obviously running sixth against the greatest horses in the world in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was another step forward. We think that 2019 is his year.”
Lone Sailor was bred in Kentucky by Alexander-Groves-Matz and was purchased for $120,000 from Gainesway’s consignment operation at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016. He is out of the Mr. Greeley broodmare Ambitious, whose dam Aldiza was a Grade I winner.
STIDHAM EYES GRADE III LECOMTE FOR TACKETT
A victory against winners on the Santa Super Saturday undercard has trainer Mike Stidham believing that Tackett is ready for a major test in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Road To The Derby Kickoff Day, January 19.
Owned by DAARS Inc., the gelded West Virginia-bred son of Limehouse was victorious at second asking over the Fair Grounds main track on November 24 before his first level allowance win on December 22.
“He’s probably our top two year old turning three,” Stidham said. “We’re planning on running in the Lecomte if all is well. He’s a big horse with a long stride and he’s a West Virginia bred which is kind of a rare situation but he doesn’t know where he’s bred. He’s doing well. He’s got a good attitude, a big stride and tactical speed going long so were real excited about him.”
A homebred, Tackett is out of the Macho Uno broodmare Unostrike who is a half-sister to two-time graded stakes winner Llanarmon.
Other known possible entrants for the Lecomte Stakes include War of Will, Mr. Money, Hog Creek Hustle and Plus Que Parfait.
KENNEDY GETTING TASTE OF SUCCESS AT FAIR GROUNDS
Spending a season at a whole new racetrack can be tough for a young rider like Ty Kennedy, but this Fair Grounds meet, he has proven that he’s capable of handling a challenge.
Kennedy, 24, is making his first winter in New Orleans a successful one so far with a dozen victories finishing in the money at a 33% rate.
“Whenever it’s your first year going to a new spot, you’re not really sure what to expect being the new person and you’re meeting a whole new group of people,” Kennedy said. “My agent Rocco O’Connor has really been getting out there and doing the work, walking the miles on the backside and it’s really got us in some good spots. I got to give him a lot of credit for working hard and doing what it takes to be successful down here.”
A native of Hiawatha, Kan., Kennedy is familiar with the jockey colony that awaited him in New Orleans having ridden against most of them in Kentucky throughout the year last year.
“Some places you go with a whole new colony and a different riding style so you have to adjust,” Kennedy said. “But it seems like everyone from Kentucky just kind of came here. It’s not a huge transition from that aspect which is nice.”
Last year, Kennedy spent the winter at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky.
“This year we decided we wanted to be warmer,” Kennedy said. “A lot of our smaller day-to-day business looked like they were going to come down here in the winter time so we figured we would give it a shot down here. We really didn’t know what to expect but with the likes of Chris Hartman and Wayne Catalano we started off on a great note and gained more and more. Everything has fallen into place.”
Of his 12 victories so far this meet, nine of them were wither for Hartman or Catalano.
Kennedy began his riding career in 2014. His first win came in April 2015 aboard Tournade Lynnie at Prairie Meadows where he rode regularly before a brief stint at Santa Anita for their fall meet that year where he rode six winners for trainer Art Sherman.