Klimt gives Baffert his 13th Del Mar Futurity
Kaleem Shah’s Klimt surged past front-running 4-5 favorite and opened up in deep stretch to hand Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his 13th Del Mar Futurity (G1) win. Previously a dominant winner of the Best Pal (G2), Klimt turned the double in Del Mar’s premier juvenile stakes.
The 5-2 second choice was given a heady ride by Rafael Bejarano, who reserved him off the swift and contested pace. Straight Fire was pressed by Midnight Pleasure through an opening quarter in :22.33, then had Chasing Aces rush up between to force the issue. Chasing Aces went wrong, sadly, after a half in :44.38 and was pulled up.
By that point, Klimt was ranging into contention turning for home. Straight Fire appeared to be coasting in upper stretch, but when Klimt drew alongside, the hot-shot maiden winner had no response. Inside the seventh furlong, Klimt poured it on to win by 4 1/4 lengths and clocked 1:21.80.
Straight Fire held second from Midnight Pleasure. It was a long way -- 16 1/2 lengths back -- to Dynamic Ruler, and Vegas Itch was last across the line.
The post-race news about Chasing Aces took a tragic turn. According to Del Mar publicity, the Peter Miller trainee sustained a slab fracture to his left knee, and had to be euthanized. The promising youngster had set a track record in his maiden win over Straight Fire.
The future appears bright for Klimt, who's now won three straight by a total of 12 1/4 lengths.
Quotes from Del Mar
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Klimt: “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.”
Winning rider Rafael Bejarano: “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.”
Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux on runner-up Straight Fire: “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.”
Photo courtesy of Benoit