With Roiland, Amoss chasing elusive Louisiana Derby win

Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds
March 22, 2019 09:42am
With Roiland, Amoss chasing elusive Louisiana Derby win
Photo: Coady Photography

New Orleans native Tom Amoss has won 50 graded stakes events in more than three decades of training, and while he has come close numerous times, he is still yet to secure a victory in his home track’s premier race, the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby.

Amoss hopes that the wait comes to an end this year when he sends out Roiland for the Fair Grounds' final prep toward the 2019 Kentucky Derby.


In four of the past six runnings of the Louisiana Derby, Amoss has never finished worse than fourth, with his record including two runner-up finishes with eventual Kentucky Derby contenders Mylute in 2013 and Lone Sailor, who was beaten by a neck last year. He is ready to finally cross it off the list after having come so close to tasting success in the event.

“It’s been so elusive,” Amoss said. “I’ve been the favorite in it (with eventual fourth-place finisher Mo Tom in 2016) and I’ve been beaten right on the wire twice. I’m not sure how I’d react, but I can tell you to do it in my hometown with my family would certainly be something that I would love to see happen.”

Owned by James and Mary Durlacher, Roiland breaks from the rail in the field of 11 sophomores and has already secured 10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby when running third at 69-1 in the Feb. 16 Risen Star Stakes (G2). Amoss had high praise for the son of Successful Appeal all meet long, but acknowledges that the horse needs a setup to make an effective run.

“I don’t mind getting the rail,” Amoss said. “I’m disappointed there’s not more pace particularly when there’s more pace in other preps, but you play the hand you’re dealt so it’s important to position him a little closer earlier. I don’t envision him being in a different zip code which is where we were last time.”


While waiting to notch a first Louisiana Derby win, Amoss was able to secure his first victory in another prestigious local event when Chocolate Martini sprung a 13-1 upset in last year’s Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). This year, he has the 6-5 morning line favorite Serengeti Empress, who enters off of a stellar victory in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2), where she was geared down by jockey James Graham in the final eighth of a mile. 


Unlike Roiland, who will likely make his move in the race’s late stages, Serengeti Empress has displayed front-running style in her three stakes victories. 


“There’s no secret about our game plan: We're going to the front,” Amoss said. “If someone wants to make the lead, they’re going to have to pass us to do it. With her, she’s doing all the things that she has done leading into her bigger races, and we’re confident she’s going to run her race on Saturday.”

A Joel Politi-owned daughter of Alternation, Serengeti Empress currently sits atop the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 60 points. Two starts prior to her Rachel Alexandra win where she garnered 50 points, she showcased a highly impressive victory in Churchill Downs’ Pocahontas Stakes (G2), which was worth 10 points to the winner.


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