By Steve Byk
Churchill Downs opened the 2009 spring meet April 25 with a cast of talented Derby Trial (gr. III) 3-year-olds lined up with the promise of spotlighting a potential star. And while Hull's victory was impressive, it was Richard, Bertram, and Elaine Klein's Cash Refund that drew raves 60 minutes earlier with a resounding seven-length triumph in a non-winners of two allowance race.
Cash Refund, a homebred Petionville gelding, was making just his second career start for the well known Louisville breeder/owners and trainer Steve Margolis. In his Feb. 19 debut at Fair Grounds, Cash Refund led start to finish under Brian Hernandez Jr., drawing off impressively down the long New Orleans stretch to win by 6 3/4 lengths at 9-1. Stopping the clock in 1:09.43, his effort earned Cash Refund a 92 Beyer Speed Figure and a Thoro-Graph Speed Figure of 4: stunning figures for a debut.
In the equally smashing follow-up, Cash Refund sat third early at Churchill Downs, as Bill Mott trainee Snapshot set a sharp opening fraction of :21.03. Cash Refund drew even with the leader at the half-mile mark in :44.03 without urging from Hernandez before again drawing away down the stretch. The performance had Richard Klein and Margolis justifiably ebullient in the Churchill winner's circle.
"He's got such great natural speed," said a beaming Margolis. "The way he's run is so encouraging."
Asked about a next step for his homebred, Klein initially thought to stay local. "The (gr. III) Matt Winn is here in a few weeks, and he really seems to like being on his home field," said Klein. "There's the race Belmont Day of course (Woody Stephens), but I don't know if we're ready for Capt. Candyman Can and those horses just yet."
No matter what the connections decide, Cash Refund is an impressive addition to an already nice lineup of sophomore sprinters and looks to have a big future.
He also is yet another result of the Klein Family's assembly line operation of productive progeny from a carefully engineered broodmare band. Cash Refund is out of the Mystery Storm mare Swept Away, a Florida-bred from Hart Farm, who was an immensely talented, multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter that earned more than $500,000 from nine wins in 16 career starts. Swept Away was purchased for $55,000 at the OBS February 2-year-olds in training sale in 1999 by Bernie Flint, who acquired a litany of superb race and broodmares for the Kleins.
"She worked nice at Ocala for the sale," Flint recalled. "Fast, but not too fast. She was really attractive, but had a splint. If not for that, she would have brought a whole lot more money. We took care of that, and she went on to a great couple of years for all of us."
Like everyone else that saw Cash Refund, Flint was impressed with the April 25 performance.
"I was watching for him down in New Orleans because I knew he was coming out," he said. "His momma was the best horse that sire ever got, and this horse is a stone runner just like her."
Despite the short past performance tab, Margolis hasn't missed a day of training with Cash Refund. He joined the Margolis string in June 2008 after receiving the standard spring grooming for a Klein horse, which included early development work at Fred and Nancy Mitchell's Clarkland Farm and finishing by Amy Lopresti.
"He came in as a colt that showed talent," Margolis recalled. "But he was wound up, not entirely happy. We made sure he was OK physically, and then Mr. Klein gave the approval to have him gelded. He got a six-week turn out afterwards and came with us to New Orleans a completely different horse."
From that point, things came easily for Margolis with Cash Refund. The gelding progressed quickly through December and into January. When Cash Refund refused to let an elder, seasoned workmate past him during a :47 tandem work, Margolis shopped for a debut spot. After the facile debut where he "ran unbelievable" according to Margolis, no allowance opportunities presented themselves in Louisiana.
"There was the opening day race at Churchill," Margolis said, "so we figured we'd set our sights on that rather than force something on the synthetic track."
While non-committal about the introduction to graded stakes company, Margolis and Klein do have a few ideas about what lies ahead for their gelding.
"I'd be comfortable up to seven-eighths right now," said Margolis.
And Klein seems familiar with the Eastern sprint schedule adding, "They have the Amsterdam and King's Bishop at Saratoga that we can target. Whatever we do, it's always nice to get a good horse.”