When Stay Put first made it to the race last September, co-owner Richard Klein’s daughter told him, "This is our Derby horse." Klein, who has owned horses with his parents, Bert and Elaine, for more than 20 years, laughed at the remark. Not only hadn’t the son of Broken Vow shown much in the mornings for trainer Steve Margolis, he was not the most mentally mature individual to look through a bridle.
While Stay Put didn’t quite make the Run for the Roses, he will be in the starting gate for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the Kleins’ first foray into a Triple Crown race. The Louisville, Ky., based family is no stranger to top horses, however. They have raced graded stakes winners such as Hurricane Bertie (who won the grade II Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park), Allamerican Bertie, Change Up, Could Be, De Bertie, G P Fleet, Hidden Assets, Stay Sound, Swept Away, Thunder Bertie, Whirlie Bertie, and grade I winner Outofthebox.
Stay Put’s immaturity was a factor early in his career. He broke through the gate before his first race, then broke badly when the race began. He ran on late, however, to finish third of 10 going one mile. In his next outing, he stumbled at the start, spotting his field many lengths before running on again to finish third.
"Jamie Theriot got off him and said he’d run a winning race," noted Richard Klein. "Jamie said the horse wanted to run long and that he would win some graded races down the road. Again, I laughed, but I got a little excited then."
Stay Put justified his jockey’s words when he took his next race, an off-the-turf maiden event in the slop at Fair Grounds last December, then won an allowance contest from off a slow pace. Thinking they might have a Louisiana Derby (gr. II) horse, the Kleins jumped Stay Put up to the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), where he finished fifth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths. He repeated that finish and margin in the Louisiana Derby.
Lacking the graded stakes earnings for Churchill’s headline race on the first Saturday in May, Stay Put instead won an allowance event on the Derby undercard, setting him up for a run at the Belmont.
"It’s something we normally wouldn’t think about because we like to be more conservative," Klein said. "But we’re taking a shot. He deserves it and he wants to run long. The rain won’t hurt him; the distance won’t hurt him; and he’s got the experience and the foundation."
Stay Put, out of the Dixieland Band mare O. K. Mom, has won three of seven starts and $112,100.
Bert Klein was chairman of the Bank of Louisville, where he worked nearly 50 years before the family sold it in 2001. Richard was also an executive there. Elaine Klein won world titles showing three-gaited Saddlebreds and road ponies in venues such as Madison Square Garden.
They began owning Thoroughbreds in 1987 and currently have 68 horses, including 17 broodmares and about 15-20 in training with Margolis.
The Kleins bred Stay Put under the name Reklein Stables. They keep their mares at Clarkland Farm near Lexington with Fred and Nancy Mitchell, who help plan the matings.
"It’s a wide-open Belmont and our horse is fresh," Klein stated. "I hope he runs like he’s been training."