Serengeti Empress, Bellafina and Covfefe headline Gr.1 Test Stakes
The Gr.1 Test Stakes is expected to be a battle of wills and a test of speed.
Seven 3YO fillies will be lining up for the seven-furlong Test, all eyes figure to be on the inside posts early where frontrunning Gr.1 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress breaks from the rail, speedy three-time Grade 1 winner Bellafina starts from post 2, and recent track record-setting sprinter Covfefe starts from post 3.
For Joel Politi's Serengeti Empress, the US$500,000 Test will be her shortest race since winning last year's Ellis Park Debutante Stakes, also contested at seven furlongs. The daughter of Alternation has led the way, in her four stakes wins.
The Quality Road filly, Bellafina has been early leader in all her 3 Grade 1 victories. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Bellafina will be making her first start since the May 3 race. She worked four times in July—twice at Santa Anita and twice at Del Mar—including a bullet five-furlong move in :59 2/5 on the 13th at Santa Anita. Callaghan said the decision was made after the Oaks to give Bellafina some time off and she seemingly has thrived.
"We've been really happy with her," Callaghan said. "Her works have gone perfectly. She's always been a good work filly in the morning and that's continued to be the case. So far, everything has gone as well as to be expected."
LNJ Foxwoods' Covfefe has also led at every call in her three career victories, including an 8 1/2-length score in the Adena Springs Gr.3 Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course, where she completed six furlongs in 1:07.70. Like the two accomplished horses to her inside, Covfefe enters off a loss—a third-place finish in the June 22 Roxelana Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs—where she was sent off at 2-5 but faded to third after a pressured pace.
First Row Partners and Parkland Thoroughbreds' Royal Charlotte, trained by Chad Brown, has four wins in as many starts.
Also entered in the Test are Trenchtown Cat, who is Grade 2-placed at the distance; Please Flatter Me, who secured her third stakes win in her previous start June 16 at Laurel Park in the Alma North Stakes; and Jeltrin, a grade 2 winner who finished third in the Acorn.