HENDERSON, KY – Four years ago, trainer Tom Amoss and owner Joel Politi came to Ellis Park’s signature day of racing and watched one of their fillies announce herself as a divisional threat. On Sunday, the connections again got to see one of their promising distaffers head to the Pea Patch and emerge with a victory they hope is indicative of bigger things to come.
Trying to fill the shoes of 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Serengeti Empress is an unfair ask but Li’l Tootsie has quietly been doing her part to keep owner’s colors a regular presence in the winner’s circle. On Aug. 14, the 4-year-old daughter of Tapiture scored her second straight stakes victory when she advanced from off the pace for a 1 ½-length triumph in the $125,000 Groupie Doll at Ellis Park.
The one-mile Groupie Doll was previously contested as the Gardenia Stakes but was renamed in 2015 in honor of the two-time champion female sprinter who won the 2011 edition of the race.
In 2018, Amoss and Politi celebrated Serengeti Empress’s first major shot across the bow when she annexed the Ellis Park Debutante – the first stakes victory in what would be a multiple Grade 1 winning career. Though Li’l Tootsie flirted with the Kentucky Oaks trail during her sophomore season, she had been unable to get over the stakes hump until taking the Anchorage Overnight by 3 ½ lengths at Churchill Downs on July 3.
Racing over the same eight-furlong distance on Sunday and let go at 13-1 odds, Li’l Tootsie traveled up the backside in the four path in fifth as even-money favorite Super Quick led the 10-horse field through fractions of :23.17 and :45.67 while pressed by Graysonsmacho Gal to her outside.
While Graysonsmacho Gal began to fade around the far turn, Li’l Tootsie surged up three-wide to take command at the top of the lane with Super Quick still battling to the inside. The fight would be for minor honors from there as Li’l Tootsie held a two-length lead in the final sixteenth with runner-up Jilted Bride making a marginal dent in that advantage as they reached the wire.
“This is our first stakes win at Ellis since Serengeti Empress,” Politi said. “(Li’l Tootsie) has been good her whole career really. From minute one when she broke her maiden, she’s run some really great races. She’s had a couple hiccups along the way where she didn’t fire like we thought she would but if you look at her record, she’s been super consistent. If I could have 10 of her, I’d do that in a second.”
Li’l Tootsie covered the distance in 1:37.42 over a track rated fast, earning her seventh career win from 17 starts.
“Everything went pretty good with the trip,” jockey Edgar Morales said. “She sat off the speed and she did the job from there.”
Jilted Bride was a length in front of third-place finisher Recoded with Super Quick fourth. Jockey Joe Talamo dismounted from Super Quick right after she crossed the wire and the Norm Casse trained filly was euthanized after suffering a catastrophic injury.
Bred in Kentucky by Davant Latham out of the Dayjur mare Informative Style, Li’l Tootsie bolstered her career bankroll $532,874.
Ellis Park Press Release
Photo: Li’l Tootsie (Coady Photography)