05/11/2005 11:00PM

Kimmel big fan of Awesome Twist

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Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
That Tat wins the Hot Springs at Oaklawn in March with a 103 Beyer.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Like mother, like son.

That's what trainer John Kimmel is hoping for with Awesome Twist, a son of the Grade 1-winning race mare Twist Afleet who will make his stakes debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $300,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby.

Kimmel is the co-breeder, majority owner, and trainer of Awesome Twist, who shares many similarities with Twist Afleet, including the same chestnut coloring, white facial markings, and willing personality.

"They're like twins," said Kimmel. "He's like the male version of her. I was actually looking at some footage of her win in the Top Flight, and they go the same. They look the same. He's a very special horse for me . . . Twist Afleet being my first Grade 1 winner [as a trainer]."

Twist Afleet was a one-turn specialist, her greatest victories coming in such races as like the Grade 1 Test in 1994. And that is one area where Awesome Twist differs from his dam. He is bred to compete around two turns, being a son of Awesome Again, the winner of the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic and the sire of reigning Horse of the Year Ghostzapper.

"The further he goes, the better he's going to be," Kimmel said of Awesome Twist. "This horse has got stamina all over him. I mean, every race he wins, he's drawing off at the end and galloping out 15 in front of the field. This horse is just starting to get running."

Awesome Twist has won 2 of his 3 career starts, taking his maiden by seven lengths in his second career start on March 19 at Gulfstream Park. In his last out, he rallied from last to win a seven-furlong allowance at Keeneland on April 13.

"He just thrashed horses in the a-other-than, falling back on a track that had been nothing but speed-favoring," said Kimmel. "He was probably the only horse who came from last and circled six wide and won by six against a track bias. I think that's a very good sign for his future."

Awesome Twist earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94 for that win, his career best. It also is tied for the highest last-race Beyer among the 12 horses in the Lone Star Derby. Kimmel worked to coordinate flights from Belmont Park to Texas for Awesome Twist, who was due in late afternoon Thursday.

"I think the timing of the race is right, the distance is right, and I certainly think he's of the quality," he said.

"He's full of energy and I think he really likes what he's doing out there, so I'm excited to see whether he takes it up a notch. I'm expecting him to."

That Tat in Ford Express

That Tat will face four others in the $75,000 Ford Express, a six-furlong race on the Lone Star Derby undercard. The field also includes Rodeo's Castle, Two Down Automatic, and Charming Socialite.

That Tat, 7, ran one of the best races of his career last out, when he was third, beaten two lengths by Top Commander in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn on April 14. He earned a Beyer Figure of 106, which is the highest last-race number in the Ford Express.

That Tat figures to stalk the speedy Rodeo's Castle on Saturday. His trainer, Cole Norman, has given the mount to Jamie Theriot.

* The Lone Star Derby will pay out to 10th place, with horses finishing sixth through 10th each earning $5,000.

* Thundershowers are forecast for Saturday, with a high temperature of 77.