Undefeated Break Even Romps in the Eight Belles Stakes
Richard Klein’s homebred filly went gate-to-wire to win by 5 1/2 lengths in 1:22.13.
The home team took a runaway victory in the $250,000 Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Derby City Gaming (G2), where the Klein family homebred Break Even won the first graded stakes on the May 3 Churchill Downs card.
“This is a homebred on homebred,” said Richard Klein, who owns the 3-year-old filly’s sire Country Day and raced her dam, Exotic Wager, who tragically had to euthanized earlier this year. “This is emotional because my parents aren’t here to be a part of it, but I went to the cemetery yesterday and told them we were going to have a good weekend, and they would be a part of it. I told them just hold each other’s hands and smile.”
The family bred and raced Break Even’s sire, graded-placed stakes winner Country Day, a son of Speightstown , who was relocated from Crestwood Farm to Peach Lane Farms in Louisiana for this year’s breeding season.
Klein said he and trainer Brad Cox had some reservations about Break Even’s first test at seven furlongs, but they had no concerns about her speed.
“She is a very talented filly that we knew was good from day one. This is as good a sprinter as we have ever had and we’ve had some good ones,” the owner/breeder said.
As expected, Break Even and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan flew out of the gate and had opened up a 2 1/2-length lead ahead of the field of eight other challenges by the opening quarter, which she rocked in :22.08. When she blew through the first half-mile in :44.14, Cox began to worry a bit.
Break Even, now undefeated in four starts, broke her maiden Jan. 1 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by five lengths. Since then, she won consecutive races by 4 1/2 lengths each, including the listed Purple Martin Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
“The most impressive thing about Break Even is how laid back she is,” Cox said. “A lot of times horses that go that fast are keyed up in the mornings; they pull, pull, pull. Not this filly. She gallops around every morning nice and easy. This filly handled everything well today. She is a very mature filly from a mental standpoint.”
Cox said Break Even won so impressively she will be considered for the June 8 Acorn Stakes (G1) going a mile at Belmont Park. He said they’ll wait to see who comes out of the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and aims for the stakes on the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) under card.
Break Even is the third black-type winner for Country Day. The others are grade 3 winner Will Call and black-type winner Play On, all of them bred and raced by Klein and trained by Cox.
Country Day is a graded-placed, multiple stakes winner, who banked more than $500,000 when he was retired. To date he has sired 37 winners out of 57 to race. His progeny have earned more than $2.32 million and average $40,721 per runner. He is standing at Peach Lane Farms in Opelousas, Louisiana.
“It is tough standing a stallion, but I hope people will start taking a look at him,” Klein said.