It’s not surprising that S J Stables’ Cloudy’s Knight, a grade I winner who towers over his competitors with earnings of more than $2 million, will be the starting highweight, carrying 122 pounds, in the July 4 Stars and Stripes Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Arlington Park.
The traditional Independence Day holiday headliner, which will be run at 1 1/2 miles, carries a purse of $175,000, including $50,000 from the Breeders’ Cup Fund for eligible horses.
Cloudy’s Knight, a well-seasoned 8-year-old son of Lord Avie, has matured into a long distance specialist, earning his biggest score last October in the Pattison Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine after taking the 1 3/8-mile Sky Classic (Can-II) at the Canada track.
The locally-based Frank Kirby trainee is looking to avenge his narrow nose loss in last year’s Stars in Stripes when he was caught in the final strides by Always First. In Cloudy’s Knight’s only start this year, he finished unplaced in the 1 1/16-mile Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill Downs.
With nine starts under his belt, 4-year-old colt Lattice is much less experienced than the aforementioned Cloudy’s Knight, but he still poses a threat, having won last year’s American Derby (gr. IIT) over the Arlington course, as well as the May 24 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs in his last start.
Owned by Adele Dischneider and Claiborne Farm, Lattice, a 4-year-old son of Arch, rallied from mid-pack to capture the 1 1/16-mile American Derby last summer when trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Now in the care of conditioner Al Stall Jr., Lattice will carry 118 pounds and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Another major contender is James Messineo’s Major Rhythm, who is looking for his second Stars and Stripes victory, as he also won the 2006 running of the race. Trained by Doug Matthews, the son of Rhythm won the Rossi Gold Stakes at Arlington Park last time out June 7.
Major Rhythm, an 8-year-old veteran gelding who boasts a record of 13-8-12 from 59 starts and earnings of $746,751, has won or placed in a total of 16 black-type contests.
Rounding out the field are grade III winner Silverfoot, grade I-placed A. P . Xcellent, record-setter Canela, stakes-placed runners Rumor Has It and Telling, and maiden winner Borobudur.
$175,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Lattice, 118, Julien Leparoux
2. Cloudy’s Knight, 122, Ramsey Zimmerman
3. Borobudur, 110, Florent Geroux
4. Major Rhythm, 114, Trey Agilar
5. Canela, 112, James Graham
6. Telling, 114, Eusebio Razo Jr.
7. Rumor Has It, 112, Eduardo E. Perez
8. A. P . Xcellent, 115, Larry Melancon
9. Silverfoot, 114, Rene Douglas