The $100,000 Purple Martin Stakes drew a field of 10 3-year old filly sprinters, with six coming into the Oaklawn Park race off victories. Five of the 10 fillies are stakes winners, with Frank’s Rockette arguably the most impressive of the quintet as she won the Any Limit Stakes by seven lengths in her most recent start, leading to her possibly being the favorite when the field goes into the gate. Ring Leader won the Dixie Bell Stakes, a sprint like the Purple Martin, before a poorer fifth-place effort trying two turns for the first time in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes last month so the return to sprinting may do her a world of good. Flat Out Speed makes her first start following seven months off and is undefeated in three starts, including the Prairie Gold Lassie Stakes and Iowa Sorority Stakes last September.
Another horse proven in top company on multiple occasions is Kimari, who was last seen finishing fast from 11th to fourth in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in the fall. Then there’s Edgeway, who won her only start, which came on this track, impressively by five lengths at the end of February. Dixie Belle third-place finisher Wasabi Girl has never been worse than third in six career races and may have a look, while Lady Glamour returns from four months off and has finished in the money in three of four career stakes tries including when third in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes in November when last seen. Bootytama is undefeated in three races including the Turf Paradise Open Spring Futurity Stakes. Lexi On the Move is yet another promising filly, with a 2-for-2 record and both wins coming at Oaklawn Park. Kiss the Girl rounds out the field, with a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga last summer to her credit and entering the Purple Martin Stakes off a local win.
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Kimari should be very sharp making her 3- year-old debut and starting for the first time in five months. Although her last four starts were on grass, Kimari proved she can run on dirt in her career debut last April at Keeneland when romping home by 15 lengths with a 105 Equibase Speed Figure. Shipping to run in the prestigious Queen Mary Stakes for her second career start last June, Kimari did not disappoint when second, beaten a head, in a 25-horse field. Returning to the U.S. last summer, Kimari won both the Bolton Landing Stakes and the Indian Summer Stakes (defeating males) before a strong rally which came up short when she only finished fourth of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (also earning a 105 figure) last November. Perhaps most importantly, Kimari has proven she can win when on the lead from the start or when far back in the early stages. For her comeback, Kimari has been working spectacularly on both turf and dirt and considering trainer Wesley Ward does very well (8-for-30 over the last five years, with 70% in the money) with horses coming back from these types of layoffs, I expect Kimari to fire a winning shot in this year’s Purple Martin Stakes.
That being said, Edgeway could be a very special filly. In her one and only start at the end of February at Oaklawn Park, Edgeway established the early lead and didn’t give any other horse a chance when ridden out to a five-length win. The 111 speed figure is the best earned by any horse in the Purple Martin Stakes field and it is logical to assume Edgeway can improve off the effort in her second career start. On the other hand, it’s a big step up from maiden to stakes, but trainer John Sadler is a good judge of when a horse can make that jump successfully. According to a STATS Race Lens query, over the last five years Sadler has won with four of 13 horses who made the leap to stakes after having broken their maiden first time out. As such, Edgeway must be respected as a win contender in this situation.
Frank’s Rockette is proven in stakes races just like Kimari, with nearly identical career earnings of $290,883 compared to Kimari at $291,646. Frank’s Rockette has never been worse than second in five races. After runner-up efforts in the Spinaway Stakes and Frizette Stakes last summer and fall, Frank’s Rockette took nearly five months off, returning to win the Any Limit Stakes at the distance of the Purple Martin. Earning a career-best 107 figure for that seven length ridden-out win, Frank’s Rockette should be able to run even better in this race. If she does, and if Kimari and Edgeway both run as expected, we could see an exceptional stretch battle between three superb fillies, and perhaps others.
The rest of the field (with best representative Equibase Speed Figures): Bootytama (91), Flat Out Speed (81), Kiss the Girl (86), Lady Glamour (80), Lexi On the Move (94), Ring Leader (91), and Wasabi Girl (78).