Athenia Stakes & Gallant Bloom Recap

Favorites were the way to bet at Aqueduct over the weekend, as the ‘Belmont at the Big A’ meet continued. Kimari is bound for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint after her easy victory in Sunday’s G2 Gallant Bloom, while 24 hours earlier Love And Thunder had provided trainer Chad Brown with a record seventh success in the G3 Athenia Stakes.

Gallant Bloom Stakes

G2, $250,000, 6 1/2f, 3yo+ fillies/mares, Sunday

Kimari cruises home

It was a two-horse race on paper and it was a two-horse race on the main track at Aqueduct on Sunday, when Kimari and Lady Rocket fought out the finish of the Gallant Bloom.

In the end the 3-5 favourite Kimari won that fight by a knockout, after allowing Lady Rocket to blaze the trail all the way around to the sixteenth-pole. Kimari was still cruising, though, and Joel Rosario eased his mare into the lead under a hand-ride and hit the wire without exertion, the official margin of a length and a quarter no reflection of the winner’s superiority. The time was 1:16 and one-half, and there were nine and a half lengths back to Sterling Silver in third.

“She’s special. She runs hard all the time and ran a good race again today,” said Rosario. “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 in her.”

This victory improved Kimari’s resume to nine-for-16 and made her a millionaire, and trainer Wesley Ward will now point her towards the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, over seven furlongs at Keeneland on November 5. She has yet to hit the board in two attempts at the year-end championships, but is seemingly better than ever at the age of five.

Athenia Stakes

G3, $175,000, 1m 1f turf, 3yo+ fillies/mares, Saturday

Love conquers all

The only surprise about the Athenia Stakes, the main event at Aqueduct on Saturday, was that Chad Brown didn’t hit the exacta. He won’t have minded too much, though, as even-money shot Love And Thunder gave him a record seventh win in the race, and his sixth in the last seven years.

It was a straightforward race to report – Evvie Jets was on the lead and Love And Thunder sat chilly last of the five under Jose Ortiz. At the eighth-pole Evvie Jets was still out there, but Love And Thunder was coming fast and nailed the front-runner in the last 50 yards to win by a neck, stopping the clock in 1:50 and change. The winner’s barnmate, second-choice Kalifornia Queen, was three lengths back in third.

This was a first success at stakes level for Love And Thunder, who began her career in France before moving to Britain and then to the US last year. She is one of a very deep division of turf distaffers at Brown’s barn and no decision on her next objective was forthcoming, although there is obviously the possibility that the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, over a sixteenth of a mile further than the Athenia, could figure in plans.

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