Kaleem Shah’s juvenile Klimt was the easy winner of Saturday evening’s Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar, galloping past Big League in the stretch to win by three lengths on the wire. The son of Quality Road covered 6 1/2 furlongs over the fast main track in 1:16 and change under Rafael Bejarano. Klimt’s win gives trainer Bob Baffert his eighth win in the Best Pal.
A bumbling start from two of the inner-most horses in the six-horse field left Big League the easy leader under jockey Norberto Arroyo. Arroyo tried to keep the early pace as slow as possible, leading Klimt and Bejarano through a first quarter in :23.26. Drafted, who’d broken slowly and toward the outer rail at the start, came rushing up to press the pace entering the far turn, but tired quickly leaving Thirstforlife to chase the two leaders down the stretch.
Big League and Klimt turned for home together, with Klimt on the outside. Big League appeared to hesitate once headed, giving Klimt the advantage and allowing the Baffert trainee to gallop on past his rival with ease, drawing away to win by three lengths on the wire. Big League held second by several lengths over Thirstforlife in third.
Bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, Klimt brought $ 435,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ March Sale of 2-year-olds in training. Overall, Klimt’s record stands at two wins from three starts, with earnings of over $ 150,000.
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