Mamma Kimbo proves best in Fantasy S.
The jump from a maiden win to a graded stakes is tough one, but Mamma Kimbo handled it like a pro Wednesday at Oaklawn Park, rolling along to a front-running, 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Fantasy S. for 3-year-old fillies.
The daughter of Discreet Cat romped to a 5 1/4-length win at six furlongs when Bob Baffert unveiled her Feb. 18 at Santa Anita, earning the bay filly a TDN “Rising Star” tag and a eye-catching 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
Facing tougher competition in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy, the bay filly was sent off the 7-5 favorite in the field of seven. Mike Smith sent her right to the front from her rail post, going up two lengths as the field straightened for the backstretch run. Carving out a solid half-mile in :46.77, Mamma Kimbo took the far turn with Amie's Dini a length behind. Coming through the stretch, Mike Smith had plenty of horse left pulling away once again, then gearing down late to hit the wire in 1:43.64 on the fast track.
"She pretty much geared down the last sixteenth," said Smith. "She pretty much won in hand."
Baffert, likewise, was pleased with the Mamma Kimbo's stakes and two-turn debut.
"You never know what they're going to do going two turns for the first time," Baffert said. "But she's got a lot of quality and she kept on going."
Baffert is still in California recovering from the heart attack he suffered while in Dubai two weeks ago. "That was good therapy for the heart,” he said of the Fantasy. “This is a nice filly. From her first start we gave her some time since the past race and she delivered. You never know if they're going to hold on."
The Kentucky Oaks (G1), May 4 at Churchill Downs, is on the horizon for Mamma Kimbo, who is owned by John Fort's Peachtree Stables. The owner-trainer combo took last year's Oaks with Plum Pretty, who is scheduled to start in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom S. on April 13.
Baffert's other runner in the Fantasy, Jemima's Pearl, finished third, two lengths behind the winner. Baffert said that Jemima's Pearl would also be considered for the Oaks, pending a discussion with the owners.
Mamma Kimbo has now earned $213,600 in her two starts. Fort bought her for $120,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Baffert's run in Oaklawn Park's Racing Festival of the South concludes on April 14, when he saddles the two favorites for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), Bodemeister and Secret Circle.
Baffert has won with a remarkable 14 of 23 lifetime starters and with 11 of 15 runners over the past three seasons at Oaklawn.