OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Jockey Joel Rosario had to do no more than give a shake of the reins for Jonathan Poulin, Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Kimari to overtake the lead in deep stretch and score her second graded coup of the year in Sunday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Gallant Bloom for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Kimari was much the best in the field of five under confident handling from Rosario, who has ridden the 5-year-old Munnings mare in 7-of-16 starts, including her last out victory in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap on July 27 at Saratoga Race Course. The Gallant Bloom marked the third graded win overall for Kimari, adding to a score in the Grade 1 Madison last year at Keeneland.
Sent from post 5 as the 3-5 mutuel favorite, Kimari raced in third 1 1/2 lengths back of pacesetter Lady Rocket, settling comfortably to her outside through an opening quarter-mile in 23.55 seconds over the fast main track with Remain Anonymous taking up second position along the rail.
Positions remained unchanged through a half-mile in 46.98 as Lady Rocket was coaxed by jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., coming under threat from a loaded Kimari, who gained on her rival without any encouragement from Rosario. Kimari was on even terms with Lady Rocket as the pair had pulled away from their other three rivals at the sixteenth pole, needing just one shake of the reins from Rosario to take command and come home first in hand by 1 1/4 lengths over an all-out Lady Rocket in a final time of 1:16.58.
It was another 9 1/2 lengths back to the New York-bred Sterling Silver, who earned her third graded placing, with Cheetara and Remain Anonymous completing the order of finish.
Ward said that he had considered giving Kimari her final Breeders’ Cup prep in the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America on October 8 at Keeneland, but opted for the Gallant Bloom to give her more time ahead of the Grade 1 Filly and Mare Sprint on November 5 at Keeneland.
“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,” said Ward. “The timing gave her a couple of extra weeks. She always relishes the time between starts. For her, it should work out perfect. Whether she’s good enough, we’ll find out.”
Ward said Kimari has benefitted from breaking from the outermost post in her past two starts.
“A lot of things have worked out for her in her last two starts when she drew the outside. When you’re last in, she bounces away from there,” Ward said. “In the Breeders’ Cup, it’ll be a bigger field so if she gets there down below, Joel will have to work his way out, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Rosario said Kimari always shows heart in her performances.
“She’s special. She runs hard all the time and she ran a good race again today,” said Rosario. “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.”
Kimari’s last-out Honorable Miss victory was a triumphant return to the winner’s circle in graded company, garnering a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure for the half-length score over multiple graded stakes-winner Frank’s Rockette. She flashed her talent early in her career, winning on debut in stakes company against males in the 2019 Indian Summer at Keeneland before a trip to Royal Ascot three starts later where she finished a close second in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.
Bred in Kentucky by China Horse Club International, Kimari returned $3.20 for a $2 win wager. She achieved millionaire status when banking $137,500 in victory and improved her lifetime earnings to $1,118,82 through a record of 16-9-2-2.
Ortiz, Jr. said Lady Rocket, who garnered a lofty 107 Beyer for her nine-length romp in the Grade 3 Go for Wand in December at the Big A, gave her all.
“No excuses. I can’t complain. We were second best today,” said Ortiz, Jr. “We got beat by a very nice filly.”
Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with a nine-race card, featuring the $125,000 Bertram F. Bongard in Race 3. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of every day of Belmont at the Big A on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
Main photo: Kimari gets a pat as she captures the G2 Gallant Bloom (Joe Labozzetta)
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