The lime green and black silks of the Klein family are familiar on the Kentucky and Midwest circuits and pop up in stakes around the country from time to time. They’ve been carried to victory in several stakes by the likes of Allamerican Bertie, May Gator and Outofthebox to name just a few.
Beijoca’s entry in today’s $100,000 Waya Stakes at Saratoga marks the first time those silks will be carried in stakes company without a key part of the ownership trio. Elaine Klein, a lifelong horsewoman and wife of Bertram Klein and mother of Richard Klein, lost a long battle with cancer at the age of 80 last Wednesday. The 4-year-old Dynaformer filly races today for Richard and Bert Klein and for her estate.
A win would obviously be special, the day after her funeral in Louisville. Special for the Kleins and those associated with Beijoca.
“The Kleins are good people,” said Beijoca’s trainer, Jimmy Baker, who has known the Kleins since the 1980s and trained on and off for them for two decades. “It would be so special for them to win this race. The funeral [was] Sunday and the race is the very next day. Emotionally it’d mean a lot to me, her husband and her son. It’d be the icing on the cake if we could win.”
Beijoca is the 8-1 fifth choice of seven entered in the body of the race, so the chances don’t immediately seem good. She’s won only three of 15 career starts, but is 2-for-2 at the Waya distance of 1 1/2 miles.
Baker said from his barn on the Saratoga main track that the Waya has been the main goal this summer for Beijoca, whose two wins at the 12-furlong trip both came at Keeneland. He plans to continue running her at marathon distances and she prepped for the Waya with a fifth-place finish in the Ellis Park Turf Stakes going 1 1/16 miles.
Baker blames the pace and a break for the disappointing performance.
“The break was a big thing,” he said. “She didn’t really get to run until the eighth pole.
“We kind of stabbed at the race thinking that maybe the pace could set up a little better and it didn’t. I mean, it was a quick pace, but at Ellis you can find a really quick pace sometimes and that just didn’t happen. It was unfair to run her there, but we didn’t hurt her and hopefully it sets up good for the race here.”
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode the last stakes winner that Elaine Klein was able to see in person when he guided Miz Ida to a win in the Early Times Mint Julep June 8 at Churchill, reunites with Beijoca for the Waya.
“She went a mile and a half at Keeneland last year with him on her back and she came from dead last on a slow pace, which you don’t see very often,” Baker said.
Baker hopes to use the Waya as a steppingstone to either an allowance race later in the meet, the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon Sept. 7 and possibly the Dowager Oct. 20 at Keeneland.
The Waya field also includes Qushchi from trainer Graham Motion’s barn. The Encosta de Lago mare is winless in four starts in the U.S. but has shown improvement ever since Andrew Stone purchased her last fall.
“She’s taken really well to the American system,” Motion said. “She’s probably one of the most improved that’s come to me. She’s very much a different filly from when she came here. She physically looks better and has kind if flourished.”
The English-bred mare was second twice and third twice for Motion, never beaten more than four lengths. He said Qushchi was unlucky in some of her U.S. starts, which include a runner-up in the Keertana Stakes last time out at Churchill.
“The last race at Churchill Downs, she got nailed on the two strides,” Motion said. “At Keeneland she got interfered with by my other filly [Strathnaver]. She’s just unlucky and doesn’t have a win to show for it.”
Christophe Clement entered in Mystical Star and Team. Mystical Star exits graded company and seven straight losses after winning the Grade 2 New York Handicap at Belmont last summer. The 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare might inherit the lead early, although Clement said that wasn’t how he drew it up.
“It wasn’t [the plan], but now that I know there’s not much pace, I might change my mind.” Clement said.
Team isn’t as accomplished as her stablemate and exits a fourth in the Fairy Garden July 4 at Belmont.
“She is training very well,” Clement said. “She’s got the leading jockey in North America on her back [Joel Rosario], so this is a good spot to be.”
The Waya field also features last year’s winner Kissable, who ships in from Canada for trainer Roger Attfield; Angel Terrace, winner of the Grade 3 Valley View last fall at Keeneland for Jonathan Sheppard; and Anjaz, runner-up two starts back in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay. Roman Invader is entered for the main track only.