Cloudy’s Knight, owned by S J Stables, set a stakes record of 1:49 2/5 for the about nine furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course.
Devilment, who pressed the early pace of Northern Scene (:24 4/5, :49 1/5) before getting a narrow advantage under Lonnie Meche, continued willingly late to save the runner-up spot. She finished a half-length to the good of Storm Treasure and John Velazquez.
“The owners were gracious enough to let me bring this horse down here this winter,” said winning trainer Jimmy McMullen. “We’re just going to soak this up for awhile before we decide what’s next, but as for the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT), that’s absolutely in our sights.”
The $500,000 Muniz, contested at Saturday's distance, is March 10.
Fort Prado, the 19-10 favorite in the field of nine, raced mid-pack along the inside but never challenged.
Cloudy's Knight had back-to-back third-place finishes during the Fair Grounds meet prior to Saturday's win, including a loss to Devilment in a stakes Dec. 16. In his last start, the 7-year-old Lord Avie gelding finished one length behind the victorious Purim in the Col. E.R. Bradley Jan. 13. The victory was his eighth in 25 starts and increased his earnings to $439,635.
The winner paid $15.60, $6.80 and $4.80. Second choice Devilment, who had back-to-back wins over the Fair Grounds lawn coming in, returned $4.40 and $3.60 while rounding out the $75.20 exacta. Storm Treasure was $3.20 to show.
Transduction Gold finished fourth, followed by Fort Prado, Northern Scene, Host, The Carbon Unit and Bureaucratic. Purim scratched.