Cloudy's Knight, who used last year’s Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. IIIT) as a springboard to a remarkable second-half campaign, is back to defend his title. The 10-year-old fan favorite highlights the $150,000 event at Kentucky Downs, which kicks off its four-day meet at the turf-only track in Franklin, Ky.
The Kentucky Cup Turf is the fifth of six races on the Sept. 11 card, which also includes the $50,000 Kentucky Cup Turf, $50,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash, and $50,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf. The card will also be combined with Turfway Park’s 10 races to create a 16-race simulcast program. Turfway’s card is headlined by the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III), the only remaining stakes at the meet.
When Cloudy’s Knight won the Kentucky Cup Turf by 2 1/2 lengths in 2009 he was returning from a one-year layoff. This time around, he enters the race off a mere nine-month break. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard was unsure until earlier this week whether the gelded son of Lord Avie would be able to make his return, but after firing a bullet work on Sept. 8 at Delaware Park (five furlongs in 1:01 2/5), he decided to ship his charge to Kentucky to make his 42nd career start.
Owned by Jerrold Schwartz’s S J Stables, Cloudy’s Knight suffered a suspensory injury earlier this year that put his career in jeopardy. But Sheppard said he has recovered well from the setback and is ready for his eighth year of racing. The homebred was nearly flawless since winning the 2009 Kentucky Cup Turf, posting wins in the Sycamore (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland, Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine, and W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder to end his campaign. His lone setback was a heartbreaking nose defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita Park.
Cloudy’s Knight has posted 14 wins and 13 placings in his remarkable career, good for earnings of more than $2.5 million. A Kentucky Cup Turf victory would be his seventh graded stakes win. The 122-pound high weight will break from post 1 in the field of 10 with Rosemary Homeister Jr. aboard.
Other contenders in the 1 1/2-mile race include Free Fighter, winner of the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) in May; Irish-bred Coolcullen Times, third last out in the John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga; Class Bopper, who won an 18-furlong steeplechase stakes by 10 lengths at Colonial Downs in July; and two-time group I winner in South America, Negro Da Gaita.
The Kentucky Cup Turf and all the Kentucky Downs races will be shown on HRTV.
Coolcullen Times and Sligovitz are also cross-entered in the Turfway Park Fall Championship, a 1 1/2-mile race on Polytrack. A field of 10 was drawn.
Likely to take money in the Fall Championship is grade II winner Eldaafer, who has won two of eight starts this year including an optional claimer last out on the Laurel Park turf; grade III winner Atoned, winless in four starts this year; and Brazilian-bred Lignon's Hero, an optional claiming winner two starts back on the Churchill Downs turf in his North American debut.
For the third straight year the Fall Championship will count as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the $500,000 Marathon, which attained grade III status this year.
Post time for the Fall Championship is set for 5:39 p.m. EDT, while the Kentucky Cup Turf has a 6:02 p.m. EDT post.
$100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III, Race 12, 5:39 p.m. EDT), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Polytrack) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Coolcullen Times (IRE), R A Prescott, 116, H G Motion
2. Eldaafer (KY), J K Court, 116, D Alvarado
3. Lignon's Hero (BRZ), P Tolentino, 116, E Caramori
4. Pick Six (KY), C A Emigh, 116, E M Oare
5. Atoned (FL), C J Lanerie, 116, N J Howard
6. Smarten Destiny (KY), C H Borel, 116, A O Montano, Sr.
7. Falling Knife (KY), R A Stokes III, 116, T M Amoss
8. Formulaforsuccess (KY), R Mojica Jr., 112, J P Pucek
9. Odds On (BRZ), J McKee, 116, P H Lobo
10. Sligovitz (ON), J Lopez, 116, S Smullen
$150,000 Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. IIIT, Race 13, 6:02 p.m. EDT), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Cloudy's Knight (KY), R B Homeister Jr., 122, J E Sheppard
2. Free Fighter (IL), E E Perez, 118, C M Block
3. Guadalcanal (FL), B Blanc, 116, F J Seitz
4. Sligovitz (ON), J Lopez, 116, S Smullen
5. Rezif (KY), G Kuntzweiler, 116, M Jacobson
6. Coolcullen Times (IRE), A O Solis, 116, H G Motion
7. Celtic New Year (KY), D Mernagh, 112, C Peery
8. Class Bopper (VA), R Boucher, 116, L E Boucher
9. Imponente Purse (BRZ), T L Pompell, 116, E Caramori
10. Negro Da Gaita (BRZ), B Creed, 116, E Caramori