Kaleem Shah’s Klimt provided trainer Bob Baffert with an amazing 13th triumph in the G1 Del Mar Futurity Monday as he scored impressively in the seven-furlong stakes for two-year-olds which traditionally highlights the closing-day program.
With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Klimt rallied from fourth on the far turn to engage the pacesetting 4-5 favored Straight Fire in the upper stretch and proved clearly best to win by four and one-quarter lengths. The victory clinched season-end honors for the son of Quality Road who also won the Best Pal Stakes this summer.
Midnight Pleasure was third, a length and one-half behind Straight Fire and sixteen and one-half ahead of fourth-place Dynamic Ruler in the field of six juvenile runners.
Chasing Aces, the 3-1 third choice who set a track record for five furlongs in his previous start, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Tyler Baze with an injury later diagnosed as a slab fracture of his left knee, necessitating his humane euthanization.
Klimt, a $435,000 purchase from the Ocala Breeders’ two-year-olds in training sale last March, ran the seven furlongs in 1:21.80 and, as the well-supported 5-2 second choice, returned $7, $2.80 and $2.20. First money of $180,000 increased his earnings to $336,960. It was his third win in four outings.
Straight Fire, who was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, took command from the gate, set quick early fractions of :22.33 and :44.38 but was unable to resist the challenge of the winner in the final quarter-mile. The colt, who won his previous race brilliantly, by ten and one-half lengths, returned $2.40 and $2.10, while Midnight Pleasure paid $2.80.
The Del Mar Futurity has been a springboard for the last three winners of the Kentucky Derby – California Chrome, who was a troubled sixth in 2013, and American Pharoah and Nyquist, victorious in 2014 and ’15 renewals, respectively.
Klimt capped a big day for Baffert and Shah whose Power Jam broke Ack Ack’s 46-year-old track record of 1:02.20 for five and one-half furlongs when he won the $81,990 Pirate’s Bounty Stakes in 1:02.10 under jockey Stewart Elliott. Power Jam, a son of Concord Point, scored by a length and one-half over Kafister, with Mrazek third in a field of seven sprinters. Power Jam was the 7-5 favorite and paid $4.80.
In the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf, LNJ Foxwoods’ With Honors, the 2-1 favorite under Flavien Prat, won by a half-length over You Missed It, with Lady Beware third in the line-up of eleven two-year-old fillies. With Honors, trained by Keith Desormeaux, ran the mile in 1:37.85 to remain unbeaten after two starts. First money was $60,000.
Prat and Bejarano tied for the riding title, each with 38 winners, while Phil D’Amato was leading trainer with 23 victories. Baffert completed a triple on closing day with Big Gray Rocket, an easy winner of the ninth race.
DEL MAR FUTURITY QUOTES
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Klimt, winner) – “I loved my position, all the way around there. Just perfect. I could see the favorites up front going fast and that was good for me. At the three-eighths (pole), I felt I was home. I was loaded up and they’d gone fast early. My horse kicked in. Perfect.”
KENT DESORMEAUX (Straight Fire, second) – “What he did up front, he did all on his own. His ears were twitching and he was running that fast. He’s the fastest 2-year-old I’ve ever been on. But the winner was brilliant. You’ve got to say that. But I’m proud of my horse. Only his third race. He’s a good one.”
MARTIN GARCIA (Midnight Pleasure, third) – “He did OK. A good learning experience for him. He ran well for a horse making only his second start. And he’s in there with good horses.”
FLAVIEN PRAT (Dynamic Ruler, fourth) – “Not bad for him. We hoped to get a piece of it and he did.”
TYLER BAZE (Chasing Aces, dnf) – “He did a little swerve (near the gap), but it wasn’t that much. He was running, but I think he broke his knee. I’ve never had one do that under me before. That’s a first.”
BOB BAFFERT (Klimt, winner) – “We’ve always thought that going two turns is where he’s really going to excel. He’s got a great mind, will sit off of horses and (Rafael) 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 that other horse (Straight Fire) doesn’t have another gear.’ It was very exciting to watch. When you’re fortunate to have great clients who will buy these great horses, good things happen. Kaleem (Shah) has always wanted to have his silks in the paddock (on the jockey statue) and now he does.”
FRACTIONS: :22.33 :44.38 1:09.14 1:21.80
The stakes win was the seventh of the meet for rider Bejarano (the most by any jockey at the session) and his second (Rolling Fog, 2012, also for Baffert) in the Futurity. He now has 55 stakes wins at Del Mar, 12th best of all time.
The stakes win was the sixth of the meet for trainer Baffert and his 13th overall in the Futurity. He now has 119 stakes wins at Del Mar, far and away the most by any trainer.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club