1/5 favorite, Serengeti Empress was hustled out of the gate early by James Graham, secured the early lead in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks and looked serious as a heart attack to go wire to wire in the 1-1/16 mile event. She cut out a 1/4 mile in 24.12 while Slewgoodtobetrue chased in second and Liora tracked in third. Street Band kept up with the group in fourth, and the positions were unchanged as Serengeti Empress ran a 1/2 mile in 47.48. But she seemed to hit the wall at the far turn and Liora went on by and roared clear, and as Serengeti Empress retreated on the rail, Street Band with Sophie Doyle aboard took aim at the leader. The two squared off but Liora was no match for Street Band and she drew off to a 3-3/4 length victory. Liora ran a good second and Sweet Diane was a clear third, while Eres Tu completed the superfecta.Street Band, trained by Larry Jones, completed the 1-1/16 mile contest in 1:44.54 over a track labeled as fast.
It was jockey Sophie Doyle’s second stakes attempt and the biggest victory of her career. “I feel tremendous,” she said. “Absolutely on top of the world right now.” The winner is likely to head to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks.All eyes were on Serengeti Empress after the race, as the favorite ran dead last and seemed in distress. She was vanned off but her trainer Tom Amoss reports she just bled during the race and is “fine and comfortable at the barn.”Results:Street Band $23.80 8.40 7.00Liora 7.40 6.40Sweet Diane 9.00$1 Exacta $72.50.50-cent Tri $311.55.10-cent Super $189.73