09/23/2007 11:00PM

Cloudy's Knight aided by setup

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario – Cloudy's Knight was unable to run down the front-running Last Answer when he made his first start at Woodbine here in the Aug. 26 Nijinsky at 1 1/2 miles on yielding turf.

But the scenario was different at Woodbine on Sunday as Last Answer failed to show his customary early foot and Cloudy's Knight rallied from just off the pace for a one-length victory under rider Ramsey Zimmerman in the Grade 2, $302,000 Sky Classic at 1o3/8 miles on firm going.

"The other time, Last Answer was so far in front, he got out on the lead and was coasting," said Frank Kirby, who trains Cloudy's Knight for S J Stables. "With this race shortening up, other speed kind of showed up.

"My horse ran a beautiful race. Ramsey couldn't have ridden him better."

Cloudy's Knight, the only starter here for both Kirby and Zimmerman, was on his way back home to a farm in the Chicago area on Monday.

"We'll lay him up and let him graze a little," said Kirby. "He's kind of an easy horse to train. We'll talk it over, and let him direct us where we go next."

Odds are the directions will lead right back to Woodbine, where Cloudy's Knight figures to run in the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International at 1 1/2 miles on turf here Oct. 21.

"All along, we've been kind of interested in that race," said Kirby. "The timing's really good, and a mile and a half is his best distance."

If Cloudy's Knight did run in the Canadian International, he would become eligible for Sovereign Award consideration, which requires a horse to make three starts in Canada during the year.

This winter, Cloudy's Knight won the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf and finished a close second there in the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap over the same distance and surface.

Prior to his Woodbine visits, Cloudy's Knight was beaten a nose as the runner-up in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Arlington. The Sky Classic score brought his 2007 earnings to $523,508.

The Niagara Queen breaks the ice

The Niagara Queen gave trainer Mike Doyle his first stakes winner of the meet here in Sunday's Flaming Page, a $100,000 overnight turf stakes for fillies and mares.

The 1 1/2-mile distance of the Flaming Page was the longest run thus far by The Niagara Queen, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old filly who races for Bridle Path Stable and Tommy Roberts and was ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson.

"It was hard to tell if anyone else would go, so I told Emma to stay close and let her take her time," said Doyle. "It's hard for these horses to come home after they've already gone a mile and an eighth."

The Niagara Queen finished well enough, as she maintained a half-length lead through the stretch run over runner-up Sant Elena.

And while Doyle is uncertain of his next move with The Niagara Queen, he acknowledged that he will at least nominate her to the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares at Woodbine on Canadian International Day.

"We'll have to take a look," said Doyle.

The Niagara Queen also has been cataloged for Keeneland's November sale as a broodmare and racing prospect.

Filly's win surprises her trainer

Dance to My Tune, benefiting from a heads-up ride by Constant Montpellier, won Saturday's $160,900 La Lorgnette in an upset.

The La Lorgnette, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, was the first stakes win for Dance to My Tune and the first of the year for both Montpellier and trainer Dave Cotey, who also owns the filly in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith.

"I thought we'd give them a run for their money, because she tries so hard," said Cotey. "I thought she'd be in the first four, but I didn't think she'd be first."

Cotey believed Dance to My Tune's best chance depended on her making her move at the right time and getting the jump on Serenading, whom he considered the filly to beat.

And when the favored Coy Coyote wound up going to the lead, in a race where Lyrically had been considered the lone speed, Cotey could not believe his good fortune.

Dance to My Tune and Montpellier did get a jump on Serenading, bidding into the far turn and opening up a 2 1/2-length lead in midstretch. And Dance to My Tune needed every yard, as Serenading closed strongly to lose by only a neck.

Dance to My Tune came into the La Lorgnette off back-to-back second-place stakes finishes in the Aug. 6 Assiniboia Oaks, a one-mile race that was her first start on dirt, and the Sept. 3 Algoma, a 1 1/16-mile yearling sales stakes in which she was beaten by three-quarters of a length by the talented 4-year-old, Arden Belle.

Dance to My Tune could try turf for the first time here in the $150,000 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies here Oct. 6.

"I'd hate running her back so soon, but I'd really like to try her on turf," said Cotey. "She'd have to come out of this race really good. I'll just walk her until she's absolutely wild, and then play with her out in the field."