Heavy favorite Kimari makes triumphant North American return to win Bolton Landing
by Brian Bohl
No Royal Enclosure, no problem for Ten Broeck Farm's Kimari, who built on a strong runner-up showing at Royal Ascot by wiring a six-horse field for a four-length victory in the fifth running of the $100,000 Bolton Landing for juvenile fillies on Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course.
Off as the heavy 1-5 favorite under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Kimari set the pace, going the opening quarter-mile in 21.55 seconds on the Mellon turf labeled firm with Vast and Abscond in pursuit. The Munnings filly kept the advantage out of the turn, with the half-mile in 44.54 seconds, before pulling away from Abscond in completing 5 ½ furlongs in 1:01.43 final time.
The Wesley Ward trainee won her debut by 15 lengths in a 4 ½-furlong sprint on April 25 at Keeneland before stepping up in class in the Group 2 Queen Mary at five furlongs on the straight Ascot course, running second by a head to Raffle Prize at 13-2 odds on June 19.
"She had been training real well. She showed us what we always had seen," said Ollie Sangster, assistant to Ward. "We were a bit disappointed to get beat at Ascot, but they had a lot of rain, which wasn't to her liking, but she still ran a big race. She showed us what she was made of today."
Kimari, who Ward said before the race th would be a candidate for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 1 at Santa Anita, improved to 2-for-2 in the United States, returning $2.50 on a $2 win wager.
"She broke well and going to the eighth-pole she did it easy," Velazquez said. "The blinkers off today relaxed her a bit, which was helpful. She was very impressive today. In the lane, she just went on and finished strong. She came from a really tough race at Ascot and she was ready today. I stayed on top of her and she came running."
Abscond, ridden by fellow Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, finished strong in her stakes debut, besting Champagne Humor by one length for runner-up honors. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Abscond who won her debut on July 21, is a daughter of Blame.
"She tried. Good effort. We were just second-best today," Castellano said.
Classy Sadie and Persian Queen completed the order of finish. Dontyouremember was scratched.
Live racing will resume Thursday with a nine-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred fillies and mares going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track in Race 8. First post time is scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern.