02/13/2012 1:32PM

Aqueduct: Klesaris shippers well spotted to have impact on pick six


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Steve Klesaris, who spent several years stabled on the New York circuit before moving to the Mid-Atlantic region, is plotting a return later this spring. For now, he is picking and choosing when to ship horses here from his base at Parx Racing.

Last week, he chose wisely, winning with both of his starters at Aqueduct – Mark It Man on Feb. 8 and Aba Dabbler on Friday. On Wednesday, Klesaris is back with two more runners at Aqueduct, and horseplayers chasing the $36,518 pick-six carryover will have to strongly consider using both.

The stronger of the two Klesaris horses appears to be Sophia, who runs in the eighth, an optional claimer for fillies and mares at six furlongs that drew a field of seven. Sophia is one of four in for the $62,500 claiming tag. The other three runners are eligible under the second-level allowance condition.

Sophia, a 6-year-old mare who has won 7 of 13 career starts, ran here Jan. 2, finishing second to Saltamontes in a similar spot as this. That day, Sophia broke from the rail and chased the pace early, before coming with a sustained late run to finish a half-length back.

“Sophia is tactically quick enough to adapt to whatever the scenario comes up,” Klesaris said Monday by phone from Parx. “She has spacing in all her races; very rarely she can put together a [sustained] campaign. She fires regardless, it’s not like a race is going to move her up. A horse like her needs time to recover and get back there to do it all over again. When she’s right, she’s a consistent sort.”

Sophia could sit a good trip behind Eden Star and Midnight Visit, who look to be the speed of the race. Trainer David Jacobson has Flying Train and Smart Stride entered, but will have to scratch one as he has named David Cohen on both.

In the seventh, Klesaris sends out Crown the Chief in a contentious $30,000 claiming race at six furlongs. Crown the Chief, a 6-year-old gelding, has not run since finishing second in a second-level allowance race going seven furlongs at Parx on Nov. 25. He is now entered for a claiming tag for the first time since Klesaris took him for $30,000 last Feb. 16 at Gulfstream Park. In 11 starts for Klesaris and co-owner Marcia Cohen, Crown the Chief has a 2-4-2 record and has earned more than $100,000.

Though he is just 1 for 10 at six furlongs, Crown the Chief could play out as the primary speed in this field.

“He’s a horse that’s tactically quick enough to be wherever his rider pleases,” Klesaris said. “He’s not coming from downtown in here.”

Mineswept, Saint Daimon, and Coosada are other contenders in this heat.