After a long time away from the main track, Ten Broeck Farm's Kimari made a successful return to dirt when coming from off the pace to run down favored Frank's Rockette in the $100,000 Purple Martin Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
Edgeway, an impressive debut winner for trainer John Sadler last time out, set a pace of :21.63 and :45.26 for a half mile over a sloppy track in the six-furlong Purple Martin with Frank's Rockette pressing along the outside. Kimari was content to sit near the rear of the nine-horse field while saving ground near the rail.
Frank's Rockette collared Edgeway at the top of the stretch and looked possibly clear to the wire, but rolling on the outside came Kimari and jockey Channing Hill, who blew by Frank's Rockette to win going away by 1 3/4 lengths.
“I’ll be honest with you, 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,” Hill said. “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.”
Kimari completed six furlongs in 1:10 3/5. She went off as the co-second choice with Edgeway and paid $7.60. Frank's Rockette and Edgeway completed the trifecta.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Kimari was making her first start since running fourth when taking on boys in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Prior to that effort, she won the Bolton Landing at Saratoga and Indian Summer at Keeneland, both on the turf.
“I was really, really super confident going into this race,” Ward said 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 (David Mowat’s Ten Broeck Farm) 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.”
Kimari's only previous dirt try came on debut last April at Keeneland when romping by 15 lengths. The daughter of Munnings sports a mark of 5: 4-0-1 with earnings in excess of $330,000.