12/11/2006 12:00AM

Royal Kleven always reliable


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Donna Elordi may have paid attention to that noted philosopher Woody Allen, who said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

Since being claimed for $20,000 in a 16-way shake by Elordi, Royal Kleven has enjoyed great success - in part because she always shows up.

Last Saturday's victory in the $97,500 California Distaff Turf Championship at Bay Meadows was her first stakes victory. But Royal Kleven has twice finished second sprinting behind Vaca City Flyer and twice routing behind Somethinaboutlaura this year in stakes.

The 6-year-old Royal Kleven has a career record of 8 victories, 10 seconds, and a third in 27 starts. She has earned a check in every single start for a career total of $338,478.

Since Elordi won the multiple shake for her on April 17, 2005 - "We never win a shake, even with two," Elordi said - Royal Kleven has earned $294,368 with 5 wins and 8 seconds in 20 starts.

But it hasn't been easy.

"She's absolutely amazing," Elordi said, "She does this under adverse circumstances. If I ever get her 100 percent, I wonder what she'd do."

Royal Kleven has no major problems, but she gets very tight and fights muscle soreness.

Racehorses are like track athletes, and Royal Kleven receives plenty of stretching as well as daily massages.

"I need one when I'm done," Elordi said jokingly.

Even before her first stakes victory, Royal Kleven knew she was special.

"She knows she's the queen," Elordi said.

Royal Kleven is so easygoing that after Elordi checks her out each morning, she takes a nap, because she never goes to the track until after the second break.

But she's a willing worker, according to Elordi: "She loves her job. She's into it."

It didn't hurt her chances Saturday when Somethinaboutlaura, who was given 128 pounds, was scratched because of the yielding turf course as well as the weight assignment.

Elordi was confident going into the race, and so was jockey Chad Schvaneveldt.

"I told Chad I thought we had her better than ever, and Chad said she warmed up better than she ever has," Elordi said.

Even game runner-up Loyal Bounty had trouble with the soft, yielding course, and it really seemed to bother favored Bai and Bai, but not Royal Kleven, according to Schvaneveldt.

"She handled the turf fine," he said. "She'll run on nails. The surface doesn't matter with her."

She just keeps showing up.

Several options for Somethinaboutlaura

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, whose primary goal with Somethinaboutlaura is the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 27 at Santa Anita, has nominated the 4-year-old filly to next Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 Dahlia on the turf at Hollywood Park.

But he is also weighing a pair of 6 1/2-furlong stakes at Santa Anita, the $75,000 Kalookan Queen on Dec. 28 and the Grade 3, $100,000 Monrovia down the hill on the turf on Jan. 1.

Trainer Billy Morey, disappointed after Press Camp went unplaced in a five-furlong turf sprint in her comeback, said he's willing to forgive the race because she didn't handle the turf, but he has backed off on plans to enter her in the Grade 1, $250,000 La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 28 at Santa Anita.

Trainer Bill Delia is still considering his options with Bai and Bai but is willing to toss out the race - "Anything can happen on soft turf" - and is keeping all his options open, including turf when the course is firm.

Pair of horses on a roll in co-features

Wednesday's card looks more like a weekend program, with a pair of $62,500 optional claimers atop it.

Wind Water, third in a stakes here in his debut and later the winner of two stakes, returns to his favorite track to face five rivals in a six-furlong sprint. He drew the rail as he bids for his third straight victory. He won the Cal Cup Starter Handicap in his last start.

In the co-feature, Ultimato also drew the rail in a one-mile turf race as he seeks his fourth straight victory.

Grades removed from two local stakes

Two northern California races, the Yerba Buena and Bay Meadows Derby, have lost their Grade 3 status.

Retaining their grades were the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile at Golden Gate Fields and the following Grade 3 races: El Camino Real Derby, Bay Meadows BC Sprint, and Bay Meadows BC Handicap at Bay Meadows, and the All American, Berkeley, and Golden Gate handicaps at Golden Gate Fields.

Last chance handicapping tournament

Bay Meadows will hold a "last chance" qualifying tournament for the 2007 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. There is a $2,000 buy-in, and players have to wager 10 percent of their buy-in to win or place on 10 races Saturday and again Sunday. It is a "no cap" tournament and handicappers keep every dollar won.

Three will qualify for the finals with the winner receiving $5,000, a suite for the national tournament at Bally's, and $500 in Bally's chips. The other two qualifiers receive transportation, hotel accommodations, and $100 in chips.