Klimt Proves Best in Del Mar Futurity

Klimt became the top West Coast contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with a resounding win in the Del Mar Futurity on Sunday.

Klimt is the top West Coast contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile following a resounding win in the Del Mar Futurity on Sunday.

Kaleem Shah’s Klimt officially claimed his spot as the West Coast’s leading contender for the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) after capturing Saturday’s $300,345 Del Mar Futurity (GI), the closing-day feature of the 2016 Del Mar summer season, by an impressive 4 ¼ lengths. The bay son of Quality Road and the Dixie Union mare Inventive previously captured the Best Pal Stakes (GII) last month after breaking his maiden by 5 ½ lengths at Santa Anita in early July.

Monday’s victory was also trainer Bob Baffert’s second of the day, sixth for the entire Del Mar season, 13th in the Del Mar Futurity and 119th at Del Mar overall — by far the most of any trainer in history.

“When you’re fortunate enough to have great clients who will buy these great horses, good things happen,” Baffert said when asked if he liked making a habit out of winning Del Mar stakes races.

Under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Klimt raced mid-pack and on the outside while 4-5 favorite Straight Fire set the pace in splits of :22.33, and :44.38 for the first half-mile. After rounding the bend while widest of all, Klimt challenged Straight Fire for the lead at the head of the lane and, soon after sticking his head in front in time to post three-quarters in 1:09.14, drew away with every stride to earn the victory. The final time for the seven-furlong fast main track test was 1:21.80.

“I loved my position, all the way around there,” Bejarano said. “Just perfect. I could see the favorites up front going fast and that was good for me. At the three-eighths, I felt I was home. I was loaded up and they’d gone fast early. My horse kicked in. Perfect.”

Klimt makes his way to the Del Mar winner's circle.

Klimt makes his way to the Del Mar winner’s circle.

As the public’s second betting choice at odds of 5-2, Klimt paid $7, $2.80 and $2.20. Straight Fire held on for second and was worth $2.40 and $2.10. Midnight Pleasure returned $2.80 at odds of more than 11-1. The $1 exacta was good for $6.60 and the $.50 trifecta $13.

Dynamic Ruler and Vegas Itch completed the order of finish after Chasing Aces, who ducked in sharply at the gap, was pulled up at the top of the stretch. Unfortunately, the son of Flatter suffered a slab fracture to a knee and was humanely euthanized.

Klimt was bred in Kentucky by Thoro-Bred Stables and was purchased by Shah for $435,000 as a March 2-year-old in training at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales earlier this year. He’s now won three of four career starts for earnings of $336,960.

“We’ve always thought that going two turns is where he’s really going to excel,” Baffert said. “He’s got a great mind, will sit off horses and Bejarano rode a great race. He didn’t chase anything, he just sat [off the pace], rode his own horse and showed a lot of patience. Coming to the top of the stretch I knew he was loaded and I said, ‘I just hope the other horse [Straight Fire] doesn’t have another gear.’ It was very exciting to watch.”

Klimt was named for the Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, who is probably best known for painting “The Kiss” and “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” and is Shah’s first stakes winner named after a painter. The native of India is known for naming his horses in very American patriotic ways, and also after European football clubs, but some of that all may change after Klimt.

“Everyone started taking all my football club names,” Shah said. “This is my first runner named after a painter and it worked out pretty well. I have some other painter names reserved, so I’ll definitely have more runners named for painters in the future.”

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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