01/06/2010 12:00AM

Margolis barn serving notice

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Quiet Temper followed her Delta Princess win with an allowance cruise.

It took Steve Margolis about 15 years to climb the ladder from groom to head trainer, and it has been 10 years since Margolis left his job as trainer Stanley Hough's assistant to become a head trainer. So, 25 years after first putting down roots in the racing game, Margolis's career is blooming.

Sunday, he had another noteworthy day in an already memorable 2009-2010 Fair Grounds meeting, sending out a pair of sharp-looking 3-year-old winners, both for the Klein family of Kentucky. Stay Put won a two-turn entry-level allowance horse and looked like a serious hopeful for the Louisiana Derby, while first-time starter What's New posted a two-length maiden-sprint score, looking like a colt to watch in shorter 3-year-old stakes later this year.

The 46-year-old Margolis was born in Manhattan, raised on Long Island, and took a job as a hotwalker one high-school summer at Monmouth Park. He went onto the backstretch in a more permanent fashion as a groom for trainer John Veitch in 1985, and steadily worked his way up from there, serving under trainers Pat Byrne and Howie Tesher before becoming Hough's assistant for several years. Margolis trained Request for Parole, a millionaire, early in his career, and sent out Cajun Beat to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but his current 35-horse stable clearly is the strongest group he has yet assembled.

Stay Put and What's New also mark a major success for the Kleins, who bred both these horses, as well as Cash Refund, who returned from a long layoff to post a sharp victory last week in New Orleans. Richard Klein said the decision to hire Margolis as their trainer some three years ago had been a good one.

"I'd just seen Steve around the backside at Churchill Downs," said Klein. "I'm out there a lot, mingling around with a lot of people back there. I'd talked to him, kind of watched his horses. When we made the switch, I had a list, and thought he'd fit what we were looking for. We're very pleased with him. The last two and one-half years, you couldn't ask for more."

Well, actually, a Louisville owner could ask for a Derby horse. And who knows, perhaps Stay Put will prove to be that kind of horse. By Broken Vow, he was produced by O.K. Mom, the Kleins' first broodmare, but while Stay Put has talent, he does not have speed, and Margolis started him out in a two-turn Turfway Park maiden race in September.

"He had a little play in him, like colts do, and he never really showed me the lick that we wanted to run him short," said Margolis.

Stay Put briefly got loose just before his career debut, Klein said, then finished a promising enough third. He had trouble at the start after breaking from post 11 next time out at Churchill, then overcame a slow pace on a sloppy track to win his maiden Dec. 7 at Fair Grounds. Sunday, Stay Put broke from post 10, rallying from last early in the race to beat Worldly by one length. The performance earned an Beyer Speed Figure of 81, but was all the more impressive considering Stay Put had only a moderate pace at which to run.

Tuesday, Margolis said he was likely to sit out the Jan. 23 Lecomte Stakes with Stay Put and await the Feb. 20 Risen Star. Margolis plans to run Cool Bullet, winner of the Dec. 19 Sugar Bowl, in the Lecomte, and will have the 3-year-old filly Visavis for the Tiffany Lass on the same day.

As for What's New, who overcame a slightly slow break from the rail to win going away, Margolis views him as a one-turn sort of horse, and will point for an allowance race, probably in February.

Quiet Temper looking solid

Also on Sunday, Delta Princess Stakes winner Quiet Temper affirmed her position as one of the top 3-year-old fillies in New Orleans this winter, with a stroll-in-the-park kind of 1 1/4-length victory in an entry-level route allowance. Quiet Temper's one-mile and 40-yard time of 1:40.90 was slightly slower than Stay Put's 1:40.67, but Quiet Temper hardly could have gone more easily, with jockey Robby Albarado sitting chilly through the entire stretch run.

Trainer Dale Romans said no plans had been cemented for Quiet Temper, but Romans and owner Mark Stanley are giving strong consideration to coming back in the Jan. 23 Tiffany Lass. If that turns out to be the case, Quiet Temper - presuming she continues to thrive - would wait for the March 26 Fair Grounds Oaks, and use that as a springboard to the Kentucky Oaks.

Quiet Temper raced on the lead Sunday, but came from sixth place in the faster-paced Delta Princess.

"Robby said she was just faster than other horses the other day," said Romans. "He thinks she'll adapt to the race situation whatever it is."

Speedacious to step up

Trainer Bret Calhoun and owner Carl Moore have decided to take a path of greater resistance with talented Louisiana-bred 3-year-old filly Speedacious, pointing her to the Tiffany Lass rather than keeping her in statebred-restricted competition.

Speedacious, racing at far less than peak fitness, lost her career debut at Louisiana Downs, but she beat Louisiana-bred maidens by almost seven lengths in November at Fair Grounds, and won the Dec. 12 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie by 12 lengths in a fast six-furlong performance.

To prepare Speedacious for her route debut later this month, Calhoun gave the filly a one-mile, in-company work over the weekend. The drill didn't make the work tab, and Calhoun didn't time the whole thing, either, but after Speedacious had made one circuit around the track at faster than a two-minute lick, Calhoun timed her final quarter-mile in just over 23 seconds.

"I was extremely impressed with how she went," Calhoun said.

Less impressive was highly touted Churchill Downs debut winner Walking the Beach, who checked in ninth of 10 Sunday as the favorite in the allowance race won by Stay Put. Calhoun, who called the colt's race "one of the biggest heartbreakers I've ever had," said he could pinpoint no specific reason for Walking the Beach's disappointing effort - or lack thereof. Jockey Miguel Mena told Calhoun that Walking the Beach never even tried to get involved in the race when the real running began.

"I think it was more mental than anything," said Calhoun. "We'll wait for the next two-turn allowance race and hope he gets it."