Rating close to the pace under jockey Ramsey Zimmerman for most of the backstretch, Cloudy’s Knight began making his three-wide move along the final turn, gained the lead in mid-stretch and held off Sterwins in the final yards to win for the ninth time in his career.
Trained by Frank Kirby, Cloudy’s Knight took second in both the Stars and Stripes Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park, and most recently, in the Nijinsky Stakes (gr. II) at Woodbine Aug. 26, where he finished three-quarters of a length behind one of today’s 10 challengers, Last Answer. Before the Sky Classic, S J Stable’s veteran turfer had but one victory this year, which came in the Fair Grounds Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) in February. It was the only graded stakes triumph in his 30-start career.
Kirby said Cloudy's Knight might just be rounding into top form again, after missing about a year of racing action between September of 2005 and 2006. "He had two or three little issues,” explained Kirby. “They sent him back to New Orleans for the winter and he did quite well. He’s a huge horse. We try to give him enough time to always get his feet under him right. He’s a great horse.”
The Sky Classic pace was set by 59-1 longshot Shoal Water, who led soft fractions of :50.27 for a half-mile and :1:14.46 for three-quarters. The leader began tiring as they neared the mile marker, with Sterwins, underneath jockey Patrick Husbands, taking a narrow advantage. By that time Cloudy’s Knight was just 2 1/2 lengths back in third and being primed for a final move.
“I couldn’t really tell what he wanted to do. I had him just barely on the bit,” said Zimmerman. “He relaxed right where I needed him to be, putting pressure on the horses on the inside. When I turned for home, I just smooched to him and hollered at him a bit and he kicked on from there.”
Going off at odds of 3-1, Cloudy’s Knight paid $8.90 to win. Melnyk Racing Stables’ Sterwins, who held a brief lead in the stretch, filled out an $80.40 exacta (11-2). Windward Islands finished another three-quarters back in third, just ahead of Linda’s Lad.
The son of Lord Avie-Cloudy Spot has now earned more than $800,000 in his career. Bred in Kentucky by Jerrold Schwartz, Cloudy’s Knight completed the 1 3/8-mile on firm turf in 2:14.10. Kirby indicated that the $2-million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) might be next for Cloudy's Knight.
Eccentric was scratched from the field.