Forte Dei Marmi won the Sky Classic Stakes on Aug. 19.

Forte Dei Marmi won the Sky Classic Stakes on Aug. 19.

Michael Burns

Forte Dei Marmi Formidable Foe in McKnight

Six-year-old takes strong Canadian form to Calder for 1 1/2-mile turf event.

Coming off a splendid three-race campaign at Woodbine, Forte Dei Marmi looks to wrap up the year on a winning note in the $150,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Casino & Race Course Nov. 24.

Racing for Stella Perdomo and trainer Roger Attfield, the 6-year-old British-bred son of Selkirk won the Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) with an impressive late burst Aug. 19. The gelding followed up that effort with solid third-place finishers against top international competition in the Northern Dancer Stakes (Can-IT) Sept. 16 and the Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) Oct. 14.

With two wins and four placings from seven starts this year, Forte Dei Marmi has banked $439,928.

The bay drew post 5 for his initial start at Calder and will tote top weight of 122 pounds. Gabriel Saez has the call on Forte Dei Marmi for the first time.

Like the Northern Dancer and the Canadian International, the McKnight is contested at 12 furlongs. The race, which drew a field of 10, is the ninth on a Saturday program that includes the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III). Post time for the McKnight is 3:57 p.m. EST.

Team Block's Ioya Bigtime drew the rail, which could suit the front-runner well at a distance he has excelled at with two wins and a second from three tries.

The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer won the Stars & Stripes Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Arlington Park and the Kentucky Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) at Kentucky Downs at the distance this summer. He is coming off a second, beaten by a neck after leading all the way, to Kindergarden Kid in the 12-furlong Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland Oct. 18. Regular rider Jeffrey Sanchez is aboard.

Prince Will I Am won the McKnight in 2010 for Casa Farms I and trainer Michelle Nihei by 2 1/2 lengths as the even-money choice, though the race was taken off the turf due to rain. He has raced just twice in 2012, however, following a layoff of more than 14 months. In his most recent start, the 5-year-old ridgling by Victory Gallop was ninth in the Canadian International.

Center Divider is the only entrant to have run in last year's McKnight, finishing fourth, 2 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Musketier . Trained by Brendan Walsh for Walsh Racing, the 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway  had his best moment this season in a runner-up finish to Point of Entry  in the Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) July 14 at Belmont Park.

Shivananda Racing's Ducduc, a three-time winner at Calder, gets back on turf after finishing second in the Spend A Buck Handicap (gr. III) on the main track Oct. 13. 

$150,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 3:57 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Ioya Bigtime (IL), J Sanchez, 119, C M Block
2. Manchurian High (FL), O Bocachica, 115, J B Secor
3. Mucho Mas Macho (KY), J C Leyva, 112, H Collazo
4. Decaf Again (FL), C Olivero     110, B R Rose
5. Forte Dei Marmi (GB), G Saez, 122, R L Attfield
6. Ducduc (KY), O Bocachica, 115, S Parbhoo
7. Twilight Eclipse (KY), J A Garcia, 112, T Albertrani
8. Center Divider (KY), L Saez,    118, B P Walsh
9. Prince Will I Am (KY), F Jara, 119, M Nihei
10. Vertiformer (KY), E Trujillo, 114, W M Catalano