None other than the star Kimari headlines the $400,000 Music City Stakes at Kentucky Downs later today. The 6 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies is the final race on an 11-race card with a full field of 12 horses and four also-eligibles lined up.
Considering her overall record and proven ability to win upon return from Ascot, Kimari gets the “worthy single” designation and deserves the expected low odds. She is also cross-entered in the Franklin-Simpson Stakes (G3) on Wednesday, but more likely to run here (as of this writing).
For those unfamiliar with Kimari, here is a recap.
Last year, Kimari broke her maiden by a stunning 15 lengths at Keeneland in only a 4 1/2-furlong sprint. Afterward, she ran a strong second in the Queen Mary Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot before returning to North America and capturing the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga and Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland.
To close out the campaign, she gave a nice closing run for fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, losing by only 2 1/4 lengths after giving up 10 lengths at one point. In seven career starts, it was the only time Kimari did not hit the exacta.
To start off this season, Kimari won the Purple Martin Stakes in April at Oaklawn over Frank’s Rockette, who later on took both the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) and Prioress Stakes (G3). She then went to Royal Ascot again and ran another strong second, this time in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) by 1 1/2 lengths to Golden Horde.
If fitness is a concern off the Ascot trip, look at the workout pattern following the 2019 Royal Ascot effort compared with now. Kimari shows four workouts between the Queen Mary overseas and Bolton Landing Stakes here, and she won the Bolton Landing by four lengths.
This time around, Kimari displays six workouts since the Commonwealth Cup, with five of them in regular intervals starting on Aug. 9. The outlier is the July 19 workout, as it took Kimari three weeks to drill afterward.
Perhaps a minor physical issue came up for Kimari after the July 19 one, causing the three-week break. The recent works indicate she is healthy.
Kimari also debuts at Kentucky Downs, and that is not always easy. But it is hard to imagine a filly successful in Europe not handling a European-style course over here.
Even at short odds, Kimari is the choice.
For interesting runners to use underneath Kimari in an exacta, Lighthouse and She’s So Special merit consideration, based on their ability and value. Long-shot players who want other options in their Pick 4 also can use them in that capacity, maybe as C players, but these two fillies probably fit better in second or third.
Lighthouse comes off a closing second-place finish in the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar, losing by a neck to Jo Jo Air. The effort is notable because she was second against older fillies, while this is a race restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
Oddly enough, Lighthouse’s previous races show her as mostly a speed horse, not a closer. She contested the pace in four of five starts before the runner-up in the Daisycutter, including when she won a Santa Anita optional claimer on May 29.
Given Lighthouse’s versatility, jockey Umberto Rispoli can adjust her position. She is the second choice, although better used underneath.
Back on Nov. 19, She’s So Special was a closing second in Lighthouse’s maiden win.
She’s So Special went on to break her maiden at Santa Anita in January before winning three more races, including the 5 1/2-furlong Desert Code Stakes on June 6.
Toss out She’s So Special’s route efforts. Also ignore the earlier dirt losses. In turf or synthetic sprints alone, She’s So Special owns four wins and one second in five starts, with the lone loss against Lighthouse.
As with Lighthouse, She’s So Special is more likable as an underneath option this time because of Kimari’s presence. But it is hard to fault bettors for taking a shot with her on top if the odds stay at 12-1 or higher. She is the third choice in this analysis.
To touch upon Finite, she did break her maiden on this course last year in impressive fashion by 4 1/4 lengths. But now she returns to Kentucky Downs with fitness questions off a 178-day layoff for trainer Steve Asmussen.
According to TimeformUS, Asmussen is decent with layoffs of this length with a 16 percent win percentage with horses returning off 133- to 223-day layoffs. But he is cold at Kentucky Downs overall, with only one victory in the last two seasons with 21 starters.
Finite is a pass on top for now. While she is capable of hitting the board, expect this filly to move forward elsewhere.
Kimari works as a single in the Pick 4, while Lighthouse and She’s So Special are the main two fillies to think about using underneath in the exacta. Perhaps use a win bet on Kimari at even money or higher too, in case another filly takes up the second slot.