Trainer Tom Amoss and jockey Corey Lanerie will be trying to win their first Breeders' Cup race on Friday when they team up with Serengeti Empress (Alternation) in the Juvenile Fillies. The 13 1/2-length winner of the Ellis Park Debutante and 19 1/2-length winner of Churchill Downs' Pocahontas Stakes will likely be one of the favorites, but her front-running speed might work against her in the Breeders' Cup.
“You have to be fair in your evaluation, and when you look at the Pocahontas, when you look at that field that day, there's still some question marks out there,” said Amoss. “I think everybody realizes that going to the lead, which is what these horses have done in the past, may not be the method to win the race. They've got to show that their horse is kind and rateable; with all that speed in the race, something's gotta give. So we're certainly working that direction. We're not going to take anything away from our filly, but we want to make sure she's kind and rateable if that's what happens on Breeders' Cup day.”
For Lanerie, the Breeders' Cup comes less than five months after the death of his wife, Shantel. The perennial leading rider at Churchill Downs will be trying to parlay his local success into a win on the national stage, and Amoss reflected on the jockey's feelings ahead of the big race.
“In talking to Corey, it's almost something that he has hoped and prayed for, to have something that happens that he can turn to and say, 'This is a tribute to my wife, Shantel,” Amoss said. “Corey is very familiar with this racetrack, he knows how to ride this racetrack. No matter what the nerves are before a big race like this, which I'm sure there'll be some, I think it helps to be in your own backyard.”
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