Dozen Turf Specialists Contest Louisville Handicap

Dozen Turf Specialists Contest Louisville Handicap
Photo: AP/Fair Grounds, Lou Hodges Jr.
Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup winner, Cloudy's Knight, is the morning line choice in the Louisville Handicap.

(Edited Churchill Downs release)

An even dozen older grass specialists will line up to run 12 furlongs on Churchill Downs' Matt Winn Turf Course in Saturday's 70th -- and longest and richest -- renewal of the $150,000-added Louisville Handicap (gr.  IIIT).

The Louisville is the featured 10th event on an 11-race program that kicks off the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend at the historic track.  Post time for the day's first race is 1:15 p.m. (EDT).  This year's renewal of the Louisville will be its richest as the purse has been raised by $50,000, and is also the longest as its distance has been extended by a furlong from 1 3/8-miles to 1 ½-miles.

The race will also be won for the first time in four years by a horse other than Stephanie Clark's Silverfoot, winner of the past three runnings of the Louisville Handicap for trainer Dallas Stewart.  The 7-year-old son of With Approval only recently launched serious training for his 2007 campaign and will sit out this year's renewal.

In the absence of the three-time champion, there is no clear-cut choice in the Louisville and handicapper Mike Battaglia has installed S J Stables' Cloudy's Knight as the 7-2 morning line favorite. 

The 7-year-old Lord Avie gelding, who is trained by Frank Kirby and will be ridden by Mark Guidry, won the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) in February and finished a strong second to Einstein in the Mervin Muniz, Jr. Handicap at the New Orleans track.  Cloudy's Knight just missed a 16-1 upset at Churchill Downs when he finished second to G P Fleet in the 2004 running of the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT).

Other major contenders include Runnin Horse Farm's Hotstufanthensome (4-1), Merriefield Farm's Always First (9-2), Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins III's Drilling for Oil (8-1), Gary Tanaka's Embossed (10-1), and Anstu Stable's Ramazutti (10-1).
 
Field for the Louisville Handicap (gr. III):
# Horse  (weight), Jockey, ML odds

1--Murch (113), Willie Martinez, 20-1
2--Always First (118), Corey Lanerie, 9-2
3--I Believe In Me (113), Brian Hernandez, Jr., 10-1
4--Transduction Gold (118), Shaun Bridgmohan, 8-1
5--Hotstufanthensome (117), Rafael Bejarano, 4-1
6--Cloudy's Knight (116), Mark Guidry, 7-2
7--Louve Des Reves (118), Julien Leparoux , 20-1
8--Royal Assault (112), Jesus Castanon, 30-1
9--Ramazutti (115), Calvin Borel, 10-1
10--Drilling for Oil (114), Kent Desormeaux, 8-1
11--Fri Guy (113), Miguel Mena, 12-1
12--Embossed (115),  Larry Melancon, 10-1  

    Morning Line odds by Mike Battaglia

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