Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cloudy’s Knight Makes Winning Calder Debut, takes Prestigious W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (Dec. 26, 2009) – S J Stables’ well-traveled 9-year-old gelding Cloudy’s Knight made his first appearance at Calder Casino & Race Course a winning one on Saturday when taking the prestigious $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) by 1 ¼ lengths over Spice Route. Winchester was a half-length back in third place.

Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Cloudy’s Knight was ridden to victory by Rosemary Homeister, Jr., who was also aboard for his last three victories, as well as a tough loss in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita last month.

Cloudy’s Knight covered the mile and half over firm turf in 2:27.63 and paid $13.00, $5.20 and $3.00. Spice Route returned $4.80 and $3.20, and Winchester paid $3.20 to show. The heavy favorite and winner of the McKnight the last two years, Presious Passion, finished fifth after being pressured on the lead by Livingston Street.

Winning trainer’s quotes:

Jonathan Sheppard — “He’s a wonderful horse and maybe a little lucky today with what the gray horse (Livingston Street) did (challenged favorite Presious Passion on the lead through a fast half-mile). He’s (Cloudy’s Knight) taken us from race to race. That will be it for him for awhile as we’ve already decided to skip Gulfstream. You can’t dance all the dances, although he wasn’t even blowing when he came back today. We hope to bring him back by the spring or summer.”

Mary Hartmann (Presious Passion, 5th) – “He’s fine. It certainly didn’t help that the gray horse (Mr. Livingston) was up there with him. He’ll live to play another day – at Gulfstream.”

Winning jockey’s quotes:

Rosemary Homeister, Jr. – “I keep learning about this horse every time I ride him and the most important thing I’ve learned is to just let him run his race the way he wants to. I wasn’t so concerned about the favorite opening up on the field the way he does, I was more concerned about the pace behind the leader. It’s important not to fight this horse, he’s too professional at running these long distance races, you just have to sit and let him do his thing.”

Elvis Trujillo (Presious Passion, 5th) – “When that horse came to us the first time at the wire I was shocked because we are usually out there by ourselves in front. When I realized what was happening I got concerned that it was going to cost us the race and I believe it hurt our chances a lot.”

About W.L. McKnight:

The chairman of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M), founder of Tartan Farms in the 1960s, and co-founder of Calder Race Course, William L. McKnight was one of the greatest contributors to Thoroughbred racing the state of Florida has ever known. His Tartan Farms was a leading national breeding operation in the mid-60s and stayed in the top 20 every year until its dispersal in 1987, having bred 75 stakes winners in all.

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