10/18/2005 11:00PM

The claim that keeps on giving


ALBANY, Calif. - Donna Elordi had more than the usual trepidation when she claimed the 5-year-old mare Royal Kleven for herself and retired trainer Len Shoemaker. Elordi beat out a remarkable 15 others when she took Royal Kleven for $20,000 out of a second-place finish in a Bay Meadows sprint in April.

When it was over, Elordi emerged stunned that she had beaten the odds and hoping she could do justice to what seemed like a big break.

"[Trainer] Gil Matos said when I won the shake that it was meant to be and that I'd win a lot of money with her," Elordi said.

Six starts, two wins, three seconds, a fourth, and $112,680 later, Matos's prediction has come true.

"I still pinch myself," Elordi said. "She's been a miracle."

Elordi has Royal Kleven nicely spotted in Friday's Golden Gate feature, an optional $50,000 claimer that drew seven fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles.

comes off an impressive victory in a first-level allowance race at one mile at Del Mar.

Royal Kleven was considered strictly a sprinter before the claim, but Elordi has stretched her out. Royal Kleven won at seven furlongs for Elordi before running second at a mile and then winning at a mile.

"They said she wouldn't relax, but she's been able to do that nicely," Elordi said.

Royal Kleven has enough speed to have won wire-to-wire sprinting, but has also shown she can finish from well off the pace. She figures to be able to sit just off the pace Friday, although she might find herself on the lead.

Her primary competition may come from a pair of 3-year-olds, the stakes winner and stakes-placed Hold the Game.

Though winless with a second and third in six starts this year, Tense Wager has picked up checks in stakes in her past four starts. She missed by a nose at Friday's distance in the Burlingame Feb. 19, a race in which Hold the Game finished third.

Slews in Demand, who could be a pace factor, should also be a contender over a track on which she has two wins, three seconds and a third in nine starts.