Empress Tops Loaded Apple Blossom

Serengeti EmpressHorsephotos

GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Serengeti Empress (Alternation) tops a field littered with talent–and Grade I winners–in Saturday's GI Apple Blossom S. at Oaklawn. After taking home the lilies in May, the fleet-footed filly completed the exacta in the GI Acorn S. at Belmont June 8 and missed by a half-length after a gritty stretch battle with two-time champion Covfefe (Into Mischief) in the GI Test S. at the Spa Aug. 3. Third in the GI Breeders' Cup Distaff Nov. 2, the dark bay was second to the re-opposing Lady Apple (Curlin) in the GIII Houston Ladies Classic Jan. 26 and returned to winning ways last time with a dominant score in the GII Azeri S. at Oaklawn Mar. 14, in which Lady Apple was a well-beaten fifth. Also exiting the Azeri is third-place finisher Saracosa (Bernardini) and fourth-place finisher Street Band (Istan), winner of last term's GI Cotillion S.

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Grade I winner Come Dancing (Malibu Moon) makes her first start for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas in this test. Runner-up to champion Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) the last time she navigated this distance in the GI Ogden Phipps S. June 8, the dark bay captured Saratoga's GI Ballerina S. Aug. 24 and followed suit with a win in the GII Gallant Bloom H. at Belmont Sept. 22. Sixth last time in the GI Breeders' Cup F/M Sprint Nov. 2, she was transferred from Carlos Martin to Lukas due to the suspension of racing in New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ce Ce (Elusive Quality) faced the Oaks winner before when fifth in the Acorn, but now boasts a Grade I win of her own. A decisive winner of a Santa Anita optional claimer Feb. 17, she captured the GI Beholder Mile there Mar. 14. GI Clement Hirsch S. victress Ollie's Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}) finished third in that test and also returns here.

GII Black-Eyed Susan S. victress Point of Honor (Curlin) has been knocking at the door of a top-level win with a pair of runner-up efforts in the GI CCA Oaks July 21 and GI Alabama S. Aug. 17. She started this year with a second in a Tampa handicap Mar. 7.

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