Kimchi Too Hot to Handle in Woodbine Oaks

(from Woodbine report)
Kimchi, perfectly handled by jockey Patrick Husbands, took over turning for home and drove to a 1 3/4-length triumph over Sweet Breanna in the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, the premier event for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies Sunday in Toronto.

Trained by Mark Casse, the Seasoft Stable filly was placed in a stalking fourth position from the start of the 1 1/8-mile race, as Seductively, Sweet Breanna and Executive Flight set the early pace, getting the half in :46.97. After the six furlongs was reached in 1:11.83, Husbands gently moved his filly to challenge the leaders around the far turn, then swept to the front coming into the stretch.

Kimchi, sent off at odds of 8-1, opened up by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to run. Sweet Breanna gave chase down the lane, but Kimchi, a daughter of Langfuhr , held well while getting the distance in 1:52.23 over a fast track. Seductively finished third, another 2 3/4 lengths back, with Questuary fourth.

Strike Softly went off the 2-1 choice in an extremely competitive renewal of the Oaks, but finished seventh, ending a streak of eight consecutive wins by post-time favorites.

It was the first Oaks win for all of Kimchi's connections, including four-time Sovereign Award winner Husbands. It was also the second year in a row that a Manitoba-bred won the filly classic after Gold Strike did so last year. Kimchi, out of Alljazz, by Stop the Music, is also a half-sister to King of Jazz, another Manitoba-bred who finished second to Wild Desert in last year's Queen's Plate. She sold for $70,000 at Fasig-Tipton's 2004 Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

It was Kimchi's first stakes victory, but last year she tipped her ability with a strong second-place effort to Sugar Swirl in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She's also never finished worse than fourth in six lifetime outings. Kimchi ran second in an allowance race in her last start one month ago when 5 1/4 lengths behind Sweet Breanna.

"Well, nothing went right going into the last race, and then Patrick said she was too sharp," said Casse. "We took the blinkers off and got her relaxed a little bit today. She still was pretty eager, though. I kept saying, 'Patrick, don't go to the lead too quick.' I never count anything until they get to the wire."

On Kimchi's future, Casse said, "I don't think the distance matters. I honestly think she'll probably like the turf better than anything. She worked really well on the turf. We will go to Fort Erie (for the Labatt Bison City) and try that, and come back here."

The Oaks is the first leg of the filly Triple Tiara. It's followed by the Labatt Bison City Stakes July 2 at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, then the Wonder Where Stakes July 29 at 10 furlongs on the turf at Woodbine.

For the win, Kimchi picked up a pot of (U.S.)$271,320 to push her career bankroll to (U.S.)$368,046.

Seasoft Stable is the nom de course for Sal and Colleen Simeone of New York, who have only owned Thoroughbreds for three years.

The sixth choice of the public in the field of 10, Kimchi returned $19.70, $7.70 and $5.30, combining with Sweet Breanna ($6.20, $4.50) for a $115.40 exacta. Seductively ($4.70) fashioned a $672.70 trifecta payoff.

After Questuary came Executive Flight, Wedded Woman, Strike Softly, London Snow, Our Madison and Like a Gem.

(Chart, Equibase)