11/28/2002 1:00AM

Thanksgiving upset in Falls City


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For all they had accomplished as horse owners, the members of the Klein family never had won a stakes race at either of the two big racetracks in Kentucky.

"We've probably won over 30 stakes races," said Richard Klein, who owns dozens of horses in partnership with his parents, Bert and Elaine. "But never one at Churchill Downs or Keeneland."

That drought ended with a dramatic flair on Thanksgiving Day Thursday at Churchill, as Allamerican Bertie, the family's latest star, outran favored Take Charge Lady to win the $270,000, Grade 2 Falls City Handicap before a crowd of Thanksgiving Day crowd of 10,529.

Allamerican Bertie, ridden by Pat Day, was expected to be the front-runner, but after a somewhat slow break, she had to quicken going into the first turn to seize an open-length lead from Take Charge Lady. At the half-mile pole, Take Charge Lady, the 4-5 favorite under Edgar Prado, cruised up to the outside of the leader, but that was all she could do. With Day riding confidently, Allamerican Bertie maintained about a half-length lead into deep stretch, and then steady right-handed whipping by Day sealed the win by 1 1/4 lengths.

"I could have gone head-to-head the whole way, but I thought I'd let her go on," said Prado. "It was a good race by both horses."

Allamerican Bertie, trained by Steve Flint, paid $7.20 as second choice after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.60 over a fast track. Softly was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third, followed by Printemps, Lady Shari, and Due to Win.

Allamerican Bertie carried 117 pounds, five fewer than Take Charge Lady.

Richard Klein said the victory was special because of the many friends and family members who were in attendance and because Thursday was his wife Beth's 40th birthday. The Kleins previously have campaigned such top horses as Hurricane Bertie, Outofthebox, and Interest Only.

The 5-1 exacta paid $14.40 and the 5-1-3 trifecta paid $40.80.

Trainer Ken McPeek said he still will consider the Great State Challenge Distaff on Nov. 7 at Sam Houston Park for Take Charge Lady.

* The pick six went unhit again, leaving a carryover of more than $110,000 going into Friday. The entire pool must be paid out Saturday because the meet ends.