On closing day at Del Mar, an impressive victory by Klimt in the Del Mar Futurity assured the two-year-old colt a spot in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In the last two years, American Pharoah and Nyquist captured the Del Mar Futurity along the way to year-end Championship honors, and continued on to stardom in the Kentucky Derby.
Early in the seven-furlong race, Klimt settled three-wide in fourth place, about a length off of the pace. The colt extended his stride around the far turn, collaring the pace setter Straight Fire. The game pace setter fought back briefly, but was no match for the stronger Klimt. Jockey Raphael Bejarano gave Klimt a few taps in the stretch, and the colt drifted out while extending his lead to 4 ½ lengths under the wire. The final time was 1:21.80, less than an eye blink off of the stakes record of 1:20.48 set in 2014 by eventual Triple Crown hero American Pharoah.
Klimt (Quality Road - Inventive, by Dixie Union) was bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, LLC. The bay colt was purchased out of the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling Sale for $140,000 by Bradley Thoroughbreds and pinhooked to the 2016 OBS March Sale of Two Year Olds in Training. The colt breezed two-furlongs in 20.4 and caught the eye of Bob Baffert, who purchased the youngster for $435,00 on behalf of Kaleem Shah.
Like many OBS two-year-olds, Klimt was a precocious baby. In late June he placed fourth as the favorite in a five-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita. The top five positions mostly stayed that way around the track and Klimt was unable to make headway.
Three weeks later at the same track, Klimt ran away from his rivals by 5 ¼ lengths in a 5 ½ furlong maiden race. Baffert’s charge continued his winning ways in the Best Pal Stakes (G2). The large bay colt battled the pace setter down the lane and put him away to score by widening 2 ¾ lengths. Klimt has now won three of his four starts, earning $336,960, and he is a multiple graded stakes winner.
Quality Road (Elusive Quality - Kobla, by Strawberry Road (AUS)) was a swift middle distance horse on the track, A solid contender up to 1 1/8 miles, he set three track records, one at Saratoga for 6 1/2 furlongs and two at Gulfstream Park, where he bettered his time at 1 1/8 miles.
As a three-year-old, Quality Road showed his fondness for the Gulfstream Park dirt surface. He captured the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and set a new track record in the Florida Derby (G1). Unfortunately, the highly-hyped colt missed all three Triple Crown races due to quarter cracks. In his first start off of a long layoff in August, Quality Road set a new track record of 1:13.74 for 6 ½ furlongs while winning the Amsterdam Stakes (G2).
Although he successfully navigated 1 1/8 miles in the Florida Derby, Quality Road found 1 ¼ miles too much to handle. After his victory in the Amsterdam, the bay colt placed third in the Travers (G1) and second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1). Quality Road was entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but had a mental meltdown before the race and was scratched.
Coming back stronger as a four-year-old, Quality Road was victorious in four of six starts. After a winning tune-up in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3), Quality Road reset his own track record for 1 1/8 miles, lowering it to 1:47.49.
Quality Road sandwiched a second-place finish, beaten a head in the Whitney Handicap (G1) between victories in the Metropolitan Handicap and Woodward Stakes (G1). In his final career start, the Todd Pletcher trainee made it into the starting gate for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic but finished twelfth behind the battling Blame and Zenyatta. Quality Road compiled a 13-8-3-1 record and earned $2,232,830.
Quality Road retired to stud at Lane’s End for an initial fee of $35,000. His first crop of babies hit the track in 2014. The stallion’s fee has remained steady as he churns out winners. He was leading Freshman Sire by earnings in a strong year of accomplished winners that included the initial offspring of Horses of the Year Blame and Summer Bird, Two-time Champ Lookin at Lucky, Champion Two Year Old Midshipman, and Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
Like their sire, Quality Road’s stakes progeny are proving to be adept as milers to middle distance runners. In only three crops, the young stallion has sired 22 blacktype earners, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero Hootenanny, Gamely Stakes (G1) heroine Illuminant and Klimt.
Quality Road’s son Layfield Road, out of a Dixie Union mare, is a stakes-placed turf sprinter. His son Blofeld, out a Storm Cat mare is a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner at six furlongs and a mile. Storm Cat is Klimt’s second damsire.
We can trace the class in Klimt’s distaff line back to his fourth dam, Grade 1 winner Faras Team.
Fara’s Team is noted more for her breeding rather than her racing career. Her two most successful foals on the track have passed along their genes to stakes winning descendants. Her first foal, Tennis Lady (Broad Brush), was successful from 4.5 furlongs to 9 furlongs over dirt and turf. Tennis Lady’s most notable race was a nose victory in the Martha Washington Stakes (G3) running 8.5 furlongs over the Laurel Park turf.
1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Concern was Fara’s Team’s second foal. The full brother to Tennis Lady won or placed in fifteen graded stakes races. Concern was a mainstay sire in Maryland for much of his stud career.
Tennis Lady’s daughter Original (Storm Cat) was unplaced in two starts. But is passing along the family class to her offspring.
Klimt’s dam Inventive (Dixie Union - Original, by Storm Cat) the most accomplished of her siblings, was a multiple stakes placed miler. She won her two-year-old debut sprinting over the dirt at Laurel Park. Trained by Richard Small, Inventive spent most of her career competing against allowance class foes with relative success. She placed third in the Hilltop and Pearl Necklace Stakes (8.5F), both at Pimlico. Additionally, Inventive was third in the one-mile Twixt Stakes at Laurel Park. The daughter of Dixie Union compiled a 20-3-4-5 ($134,000) in three years.
Inventive is passing her winning ways to her babies. Klimt is her fourth foal. Her first foal West Coast Chick (Malibu Moon) was a little later maturing than her dam and younger brother. She was unplaced in her sole start as a two-year-old. However, West Coast Chick won her first two starts as a three-year-old. West Coast Chick placed second in the Vagrancy Handicap (G3) at 6.5 furlongs in May. The sprinter/miler has started 20 times with a 3-2-1 record and $163,184 in earnings. She’s currently breezing at Saratoga under the guidance of trainer Nick Zito.
Inventive’s second foal, Iafet, is an unraced son of Indian Charlie. Her third foal Sweet Invention, raced twice in California, placing both times. Her last start was in January 2016, but she has recorded breezes under the eye of trainer John W. Sadler.
Klimt has an unnamed yearling half-sister by Bernardini who sold for $42,000 in the Keeneland January sale.
Dixie Union (Dixieland Band - She's Tops, by Capote) was a win-early type, earning victories in four of six attempts as a two-year-old. He captured the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G-3), Best Pal (G-2) and the Norfolk Stakes (G-2) and finished second in the Del Mar Futurity, then a Grade 2. Farther back than usual in the full field of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Dixie Union could do no better than fifth. The dark brown colt stuck mainly to sprint stakes races as a three-year-old, but he managed to stretch his speed to 1 1/8 miles, earning a hard fought victory over the favorite Captain Steve.
Dixie Union won from 5 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Overall, he won 7 of 12 starts and placed 3 times, mainly in Grade 2 and 3 company. The worst finishes in his career came in the BC Juvenile (5th) and Travers Stakes (4th). As a sire, the majority of his offspring won from sprints to middle distances up to 1 1/8 miles. However, his son Union Rags won the Belmont Stakes and another son, Grasshopper, finished second in the Travers Stakes.
Dixie Union is a young broodmare sire. As a broodmare sire, he has 321 winners from 495 starters, and 23 blacktype earners. None of his daughter’s stakes winning offspring have been successful past 1 1/8 miles. Although some win on turf, the majority are dirt runners.
Dixie Union’s daughters are bearing precocious offspring. They include Mohaymen (Tapit), winner of the Remsen and Nashua Stakes as a juvenile, plus the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth at three; Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero New Year’s Day (Street Cry); Hollywood Futurity winner Mor Spirit (Eskendereya), who also captured the R.B. Lewis Stakes the following year; and Unified (Candy Ride), who won the Peter Pan and Bayshore stakes this year.
The international sire Storm Cat is Klimt’s second broodmare sire. Storm Cat is a chameleon of sorts. Bred to mares with stamina oriented pedigrees, he would get two turn runners, and those mares who were sprint oriented would produce sprinter/miler types. This was the key to his remarkable success in the breeding shed.
Quality Road and his sire Elusive Quality, have excellent results when paired with daughters of Dixie Union. Out of five starters, Quality Road has four winners, including a graded stakes winner out of Dixie Union mares. Elusive Quality has similar results, minus the blacktype winner.
Klimt inherited his precocious nature from his sire and dam. Both his sire and damsire were solid winners a 1 1/8 miles but found 1 ¼ miles a furlong too far. Klimt’s immediate distaff family are winners up to 1 1/16 miles. Klimt should follow suit. Entirely capable through 1 1/16 miles, and he could be tough to handle at 1 1/8 miles.
Klimt is a strong, muscular colt. Watching race replays, I was struck by how wide this colt’s chest is in comparison to his competitors. He has a well-angled shoulder, which facilitates his smooth gait and good leg extension. In photos, Klimt’s powerful hindquarters appear to be the largest part of the colt, giving him a downhill appearance. Klimt will likely grow into his huge hind-end as he matures.
Pavla Nygaard, Klimt’s breeder, remarked that as a yearling, Klimt was “curious one, smart and polite. I remember him coming up with the rest of the gang, being one of the first ones to come up, wanting to know what was going on and wanting to be part of things, but being polite. Not that he was a wallflower, he would go where he wanted to go and squeeze his way through where he wanted to go, but I don’t remember him dominating others or backing away. He seemed to be the smart, good student type, from what I observed.”
At this point, 1 ¼ miles appears to be a borderline distance for Klimt. It seems out of his scope pedigree wise, but Klimt’s demeanor, running style, athleticism and, of course, his trainer, will all play a part in Klimt’s ability to navigate his way successfully along the Derby trail. Klimt will most likely surface in the Frontrunner Stakes (G1) on October 1 before contesting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Photo of Klimt, Del Mar Futurity winner's circle, courtesy of Kaz Ishida/Eclipse Sportswire.