Bell’s The One Nips Serengeti Empress At The Wire In Derby City Distaff Stakes

Serengeti Empress set determined fractions on Saturday in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff Stakes at Churchill Downs, and she nearly pulled off a blazing victory at the site of her 2019 Kentucky Oaks victory, but for the nostril of a late-moving Bell’s the One.

Bell’s the One, a 4-year-old daughter of Majesticperfection, was unhurried out of the gate by jockey Corey Lanerie while post-time favorite Serengeti Empress got to the rail quickly and ran hard to an opening quarter in :21.95 seconds, chased closely on the outside by Bellafina. The eventual winner remained well distanced from Serengeti Empress through the turn as the leader clicked a half-mile in :43.77 seconds.

Tyler Gaffalione, riding Serengeti Empress in a race for the first time, was riding easily on the leader despite the hot fractions, and her closest challenger at the time, Ce Ce, appeared to be out of range to catch them. However, jockey Corey Lanerie roused Bell’s the One to life at the quarter pole, and the filly engaged with the rest of the pack by the three-sixteenths pole.

Bell’s the One was up to third by the eighth pole, and Gaffalione had begun to ask Serengetti Empress for more on the lead. The challenger was still a length behind with a sixteenth to go, and the two locked horns as the wire drew close. Trading head bobs at the finish line, Bell’s the One won the photo by a nose over Serengeti Empress. Sally’s Curlin, also well back early on, closed from the outside to finish third.

Bell’s the One completed the seven-furlong race in 1:21.07 over a fast main track. She paid $10.40 to win as the field’s co-third choice

The Derby City Distaff was the first Grade 1 victory for trainer Neil Pessin, who saddled the winner for Lothenbach Stables.

Saturday’s victory was the seventh win in 14 career starts for Bell’s the One, and her third graded stakes win, growing her lifetime earnings to $790,040. She won the G3 Winning Colors Stakes at Churchill Downs two starts earlier, and she took last year’s G2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland.

Bell’s the One was bred in Kentucky by Bret Jones, out of the winning Street Cry mare Street Mate. The winner was a $155,000 purchase by Lothenbach Stables at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton July Selected Yearling Sale.

To view the race chart, click here.

DERBY CITY DISTAFF QUOTES – Courtesy of the Churchill Downs Press Office

 Corey Lanerie (winning rider, Bell’s the One) – “The race set up just like I thought. I was hoping someone would go with Serengeti Empress. I figured Bellafina would press her and Johnny (Velazquez on Ce Ce) would be sitting third in the catbird seat. I thought she might be hard to get by coming off a 1 1/16-mile race, but my filly has her style. I let her stay back there because I know when I call on her, she has a turn of foot like no tomorrow. When I was three or four lengths behind them, I was pretty confident that I was going to run by them pretty easy, but it wasn’t so easy. Serengeti Empress fought back. I actually thought she had gotten the bob.”

Neil Pessin (winning trainer, Bell’s the One) – “That was an unbelievable horse race. Tom Amoss and I actually joked before the photo came out that we would take a dead heat. This filly had a great trip once again with Corey (Lanerie). He fits this filly so well. She sat behind that really fast pace and was so impressive. I’m so proud of her and so thankful for the owners.”

“I’ve been Grade I-placed but have never had a Grade I winner. I’ve had a bunch of Grade II and Grade III winners. Never a Grade I. I thought I’d gone by her, and then I thought she came back. I wasn’t sure if we’d won, second or dead-heated. It was just too close to call. I knew it was pretty close and I didn’t know who won.”

“I was happy whether we’d won or lost. Maybe now she’ll get a little respect, because she’s never gotten it any time she’s run. She tries hard every time. The only times she’s ever gotten beat, it was my fault. Not hers.”

On Breeders’ Cup F&M Sprint: “I think you have to. I think that’s your only choice. That will be her next race. We gave her two months between her last race and this one and it’s another two months to the Breeders’ Cup. She does well with the spacing. It sets up good for her and she’s won before at seven-eighths at Keeneland in the Grade II Raven Run.”

Tyler Gaffalione (rider, Serengeti Empress, second) – (Talking to owner Dr. Joel Politi and his family after Serengeti Empress’ head-bob defeat): “That was a tough one. I’m so sorry guys. It was a great effort. I feel terrible. I really wish I could have gotten it done for you guys. She kept fighting.”

At the wire: “It was tight. When you’re battling down the lane like that —  head bob, head bob — you don’t really know. You just hope for the best. It just wasn’t our day. She goes out there and she does her thing and just keeps fighting. She’s a tremendous filly. I’m so happy I got to ride her. They got her today, hopefully we can get them next time.”

Tom Amoss (trainer, Serengeti Empress, second) — “I think the major players attacked us early, earlier than they would have ordinarily done in a race but they knew that she was the speed. That made it really difficult on her and when you’re laying back and just picking up the pieces and everyone else is doing the dirty work, that can work to your advantage. It was a great horse race and the winner ran great. Make no mistake about it, I couldn’t be more proud of my girl. We didn’t get it today but she ran her heart out and we’ll get one more chance in November (in the Breeders’ Cup) at Keeneland.”

The post Bell’s The One Nips Serengeti Empress At The Wire In Derby City Distaff Stakes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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