06/22/2005 12:00AM

Forever Bertie stronger since throat surgery


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Klein family of Louisville has enjoyed so much success in nearly 20 years of owning racehorses that, trainer Steve Flint said, "it would take me an hour to remember all the horses' names."

As the former longtime assistant to his father, trainer Bernie Flint, and the private trainer for the Kleins in recent years, Steve Flint has given many a leg up to a jockey wearing the Kleins' familiar lime-and-black silks. Bernie Flint trained for the Kleins - Bertram, his wife Elaine. and their son Richard - from 1988 until Steve took over in September 2001.

On Friday, when the featured ninth of 10 races is run at Churchill Downs, the Kleins and Flint will be running Forever Bertie, one of the main contenders in the field of fillies and mares. Steve Flint said Forever Bertie underwent throat surgery following a poor effort in early February at Fair Grounds, after which the filly won her lone start, a June 9 maiden race at Churchill.

"She got her throat fixed and she won, so hopefully she'll continue to do well," he said.

The Kleins have been represented by such standouts as Hurricane Bertie, who won nearly $1 million; Allamerican Bertie, a multiple stakes winner who was second in the 2000 Alabama at Saratoga; and about 40 other stakes winners, including Outofthebox, Hidden Asset, De Bertie, Alltheway Bertie, and Thunder Bertie.

Forever Bertie is out of Alltheway Bertie, a winner of five stakes, making her a half-sister to Thunder Bertie, winner of the 2000 Arlington-Washington Futurity. The name "Bertie" signifies that Bert Klein bred the horse, whereas any horse bred by the family, or any horse bought independently, does not have "Bertie" in its name.

, who breaks from the rail under jockey Robby Albarado. Trained by Neil Howard, Wind Surf won a one-mile maiden race at Churchill on May 1, then finished third under these identical conditions in her lone start since, on May 18.

The rest of the field is Sacred Feather, Skitter, Show Career, Swavomira, and Pining. Of those, , probably looks best, if for no other reason than she has won her last two starts, albeit under claiming conditions.