Talent, versatility, and durability are all strong suits for Kimari, who cemented her credentials as a Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) contender with a comfortable victory in Sunday’s $250,000 Gallant Bloom S. (G2) traveling 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct.
The Wesley Ward trainee has won a stakes every year since 2019, when she was a young turf star who placed fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). Kimari also competed in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), but in recent seasons she’s transitioned into a dirt star, scoring her signature victory in the 2021 Madison S. (G1) sprinting seven furlongs over the Keeneland main track.
Kimari entered the Gallant Bloom off a hard-fought victory in the Honorable Miss H. (G2) at Saratoga, and she kept her momentum rolling against four rivals at the Big A. Favored at 3-5 under jockey Joel Rosario, Kimari settled 1 1/2 lengths off the early pace as multiple graded stakes winner Lady Rocket carved out modest fractions of :23.55 and :46.98. The pace stayed strong down the homestretch, but Kimari was full of run and gradually wore down Lady Rocket to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths.
“She’s special. She runs hard all the time and she ran a good race again today,” Rosario told the New York Racing Association. “She was very comfortable. She was loving what she was doing out there. For a second, I was worried the horse in front of me would keep moving forward, but my filly kept gaining and I had a lot of confidence.”
Indicating how well the top two finishers performed, Lady Rocket opened up 9 1/2 lengths on third-place finisher Sterling Silver. Cheetara and Remain Anonymous trailed the field as Kimari dashed to the finish line in 1:16.58.
“That’s what you want to see, right? We were excited and this race set up beautifully for her time-wise to get from here to the Breeders’ Cup,” Ward said. “The timing gave her a couple of extra weeks (as opposed to a start in the Thoroughbred Club of America [G2] on Oct. 8 at Keeneland). She always relishes the time between starts. For her, it should work out perfect. Whether she’s good enough, we’ll find out.”
The Filly & Mare Sprint is slated to take place over the same track and distance as Kimari’s victory in the Madison, so perhaps the third Breeders’ Cup try will be the charm for Kimari, a five-year-old Munnings mare who races for the partnership of Jonathan Poulin, Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael B. Tabor.
“She’ll head back to Keeneland tomorrow,” Ward said. “It’ll give her six weeks on both her and my home track, so hopefully everything works out.”