SARATOGA SPRINGS — The daughter of the sire Into Mischief and the mare Antics was all business on Saturday.
Covfefe, named by tongue-in-cheek co-owner Jaime Roth after a botched post from the Tweeter in Chief, survived a stretch-long duel with Serengeti Empress to win the Grade I Test at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, the Brad Cox-trained Covfefe had a half-length advantage over Serengeti Empress at the wire, but she didn’t establish that until the last stride and a half in one of the most stirring battles of the 2019 meet so far.
“Tough,” Cox said of Serengeti Empress. “Turning for home, I thought we maybe could’ve put some daylight on her, and we couldn’t. But when we got her head in front, Joel did a good job of just keeping her going. I didn’t know we had the race won until we hit the wire.”
“Our horse ran such a fine race,” said Tom Amoss, Serengeti Empress’ trainer. “It was the kind of race that the fans were hoping for and for myself personally — I wish it had gone the other way — what a great stretch duel.
“We got beat by a wonderful performance by our opponent Covfefe. Just as importantly, I look at the last sixteenth of a mile and how my filly kept on fighting, and I could not be more proud of her.”
In the seven-furlong Test, the Grade I Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and Jose Ortiz controlled the early going through a quick quarter-mile in 22.19 and a half in 44.28 in her first start at less than a mile in almost a year.
Covfefe stuck close on her outside and made a move coming off the turn to get square with Serengeti Empress as they straightened for home.
At the sixteenth pole, Covfefe headed Serengeti Empress by a slight margin, but Serengeti Empress wouldn’t go away. They ran stride for stride until the last two jumps.
“She was there for me the whole time,” Rosario said. “She galloped better and better going forward, and that was a tremendous race. I know turning for home, I had the 1 [Serengeti Empress] on the inside, and at one point she came back a little and was there all the time. It turned out to be a good race at the end.”
“Huge race,” Ortiz said. “Two great fillies that put it together today. They both brought their ‘A’ game. We have to take our hats off to Covfefe, because she ran a huge race.”
“Her last two works at Churchill were phenomenal,” Cox said. “I knew when we turned for home, we were going to get as good a Covfefe as we could get at this point of the year. I knew when she turned for home, she wasn’t going to give in today. If she was ever going to get seven-eighths it was going to be today.
“We had to get by a Kentucky Oaks winner. That’s a Grade I-winning filly on the inside, and now we have a Grade I winner.”
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