By Frances J. Karon
On a weekend originally intended to be a huge day of racing — led by the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, and Santa Anita Derby cards — there were just six North American tracks that even held races at all, and one of those programs was for Quarter Horses. Instead of an abundance of Graded races, the only stakes in the U.S. was the Purple Martin, a $100,000 Listed event for 3yo fillies at Oaklawn won impressively by Kimari.
The trip to Arkansas fell neatly into place for Kimari after the closure of Aqueduct and Keeneland, both of which, prior to their shutdown, had been potential 3yo debut targets for Ten Broeck Farm’s daughter of Munnings (Speightstown), whose only off-the-board effort in five starts at 2 was a fourth (won by Four Wheel Drive, her stablemate in the Wesley Ward barn) in the G2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. In the Purple Martin, her second start on the dirt (and first on a sloppy track), she was characteristically slow out of the gate before inhaling the field with her powerful turn of foot. The expectation is that this filly will have a huge year, dependent on racing getting back on track, so to speak.
Kimari, a sprinter who by the way is built like a tank, took her career record to four wins (three stakes) and a second (by a head in the G2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot) from six starts, with earnings over $350,000. Her only non-stakes start was her maiden win towards the end of the spring meet at Keeneland, where she was 15 lengths in front at the end of 4 1/2-furlongs. Bred in Kentucky by China Horse Club, she was a $152,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling purchase by Eaton Bloodstock, as signed by Ben McElroy, from the Bluewater Sales consignment.
Her sire Munnings, who was best at 7 furlongs — his sire Speightstown (Gone West), a champion sprinter, excelled at 6 and 7 furlongs — stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, and he has seven individual SWs in 2020, more than any other N.A.-based stallion except Into Mischief (12). These two are tied with Tapit and Uncle Mo for leading N.A. sires of GSWs, with five each. The current advertised stud fees for these stallions are $200,000 (Tapit), $175,000 (Into Mischief), $125,000 (Uncle Mo), and $30,000 (Munnings). Munnings’ fee is up $10,000 from last season, when he had 11 SWs, including two GSWs. Three fillies — Bonny South (dam by Tapit), Finite (Tapit), and Venetian Harbor (Street Cry) — from Kimari’s crop, foals of 2017, are G2SWs this year, all conceived when he stood for $25,000, his most expensive stud fee until this year, and it’s not hard to envision that Kimari will join them as a Graded winner, whether it be on dirt, turf, or both.
Primarily known as a dirt sire, Munnings does have seven turf SWs (three of them GSWs), and the versatile Kimari, one of his six SWs inbred to Storm Cat (damsire of Speightstown), is the third of his 39 SWs to record black-type wins on both dirt and turf, after Proforma (Salt Lake), a G3SW on turf and two-time SW on dirt, and Wings Locked Up (Capote), winner of five stakes, three on dirt and two on turf. Her dam Cozze Up Lady (Cozzene) was a SW on three surfaces from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles: a G3 on all weather and one stakes win each on dirt (on a sloppy, off turf race at Fair Grounds) and turf, plus a pair of G2 placings on the turf. Kimari’s fourth dam — the only other SW on her catalogue page that didn’t earn black type in Argentina or Peru — was a multiple G3SW on turf, the surface on which Cozze Up Lady’s sire Cozzene was a champion. Despite dirt G1SWs as sire and broodmare sire, Cozzene (whose 107 SWs as broodmare sire include a pair of dirt SWs by Speightstown, making the Speightstown/Cozzene cross an A+ nick) is best known as a turf influence, but it seems that instead of favoring one side of her lineage or the other, Kimari is equally talented regardless of the surface.