Narrowly avoiding trouble on the far turn, Kimari made a sustained rally from there and mowed down the favored Frank’s Rockette to win the $100,000 Purple Martin at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
The 5-2 third choice in a classy field of 3-year-old fillies, Kimari kicked off her campaign in style under Channing Hill, covering 6 furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:10.57 for owner David Mowat’s Ten Broeck Farm and trainer Wesley Ward.
Breaking from post 1, Kimari settled several lengths off the pace as Edgeway burst out to lead through fractions of :21.63 and :45.26, with 7-5 choice Frank’s Rockette applying pressure around the turn. Moving off the rail down the backside, Kimari escaped serious bumping from an errant rival that drifted out briefly and reached striking position entering the stretch.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Hill said. “At the top of the lane, I wasn’t 100 percent sure how much horse I had, especially compared to how much (jockey Martin Garcia) had because Martin hadn’t gotten after her (Frank’s Rockette) yet. Once I started reeling her in, and once my filly got to her, it was over from there. This filly has a lot of class. Obviously, she’s got a ton of talent, but she also has the class to match.”
Frank’s Rockette got past the less experienced Edgeway in the stretch, but proved no match for Kimari, who won going away by 1 3/4 lengths. Kimari paid $7.80 and was followed under the wire by Frank’s Rockette, who had a neck on Edgeway. Next came Wasabi Girl, Bootyama, Lady Glamour, Kiss the Girl, Ring Leader, and Lexi On the Move.
Ward was relieved that Kimari justified his confidence.
“I was really, really super confident going into this race,” Ward told Oaklawn publicity via phone. “I’m kind of a positive guy, anyways, but after seeing those two works (in March at Gulfstream Park West), I knew it would take a really, really tough filly to beat her. Take nothing away from the others in there, but I was really confident.
“The owner and Ben McElroy, who bought her and manages her, they were a little apprehensive when we drew the one hole because she always gets away just a little slow. I kind of laid it all out there and assured them, ‘Don’t worry about anything.’ I was a little nervous that I might have stuck my foot in my mouth, but thank God I didn’t.”
A 15-length debut winner at Keeneland last April in her only prior try on the dirt, Kimari was part of the Ward brigade for the Royal Ascot fixture, where she finished a head second in the Queen Mary (G2).
Kimari remained on turf the rest of 2019, winning the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga by four lengths, the Indian Summer S. at Keeneland by a half-length against the boys, and concluding her season with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Santa Anita after a slow start. She’s now earned $351,646.
Bred in Kentucky by China Horse Club International, Kimari was a $152,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling purchase. She’s by Munnings and out of Grade 3 winner Cozze Up Lady, by Cozzene.