Kaleem Shah's talented juvenile Klimt was the facile three-length winner of Monday's Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, a race won for the past two years by the next season's Kentucky Derby winner. Under the expert handling of Rafael Bejarano, the 2-year-old son of Quality Road posted a final time of 1:21.80 for seven furlongs on the fast main track. Klimt's win gives trainer Bob Baffert his 13th win in the past 21 years in the Del Mar Futurity.
The favored Straight Fire jumped out of the gates on top under Kent Desormeaux, with pressure on his outside from Midnight Pleasure. Chasing Aces, the Del Mar track record holder at five furlongs, took an awkward step in third exiting the chute to meet up with the main track, but initially appeared to recover and maneuvered between the top two runners to pressure the leader. Meanwhile, Klimt was waiting patiently in fourth under Bejarano, 2 1/2 lengths off the leading Straight Fire as that one set a first quarter time of :22.33.
Straight Fire maintained a half-length advantage over Chasing Aces entering the turn, but Chasing Aces began to drop back part-way through the turn and shortly thereafter was pulled up by jockey Tyler Baze. Klimt was making his presence felt along the outside, but still had a length to make up on Straight Fire at the head of the lane. Once Bejarano asked his colt for everything he had, Klimt responded willingly, drawing even with Straight Fire. A couple of reminder taps with the whip and Klimt rolled on by Straight Fire, drawing out his lead toward the wire and winning by about three lengths. Midnight Pleasure kept on to be third, and Dynamic Ruler was fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, Klimt was a $435,000 OBS March 2-year-old in training purchase by Baffert. He had been pinhooked by Bradley Thoroughbreds, originally a $140,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale purchase. The juvenile has now won all three of his lastest career starts, including the G2 Best Pal Stakes last out. His overall record of three wins from four starts has led to earnings of over $330,000.
Baffert's previous winners in the Del Mar Futurity include American Pharoah (2014), Rolling Fog (2012), Drill (2011), Lookin at Lucky (2009), Midshipman (2008), Icecoldbeeratreds (2002), Officer (2001), Flame Thrower (2000), Forest Camp (1999), Worldly Manner (1998), Souvenir Copy (1997), and Silver Charm (1996).
Chasing Aces was euthanized after being vanned off because of a slab fracture to his left knee.
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