12/06/2009 12:00AM

Cloudy's Knight changes surfaces again

Justin N. Lane
Cloudy's Knight, narrowly beaten in the Breeders' Cup Marathon last month, is the 121-pound highweight for Sunday's Valedictory Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cloudy's Knight, who suffered a heart-breaking loss a month ago in the Breeders' Cup Marathon, heads an excellent field in Sunday's $150,000 Valedictory Stakes, a 1 3/4-mile race that is the closing-day feature of the 167-day Woodbine meet. Post time for the first of 13 races is 1 p.m.

Cloudy's Knight garnered the Sovereign Award for Canada's champion male turf horse in 2007, when he captured the Grade 1 Canadian International over five European invaders. He went to the sidelines for a year after slumping in the summer of 2008, and then resurfaced in September with trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who sent him out to win the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs and the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland.

Cloudy's Knight assumed command on the final turn in the 1 3/4-mile BC Marathon at Santa Anita before dropping a nose decision to Man of Iron. Sheppard said he was thrilled with the performance, which came over a Pro-Ride synthetic surface.

"With a 9-year-old going on a different surface, we had no idea what to expect," Sheppard said. "He had trained on the synthetic, but had never run on it. It was only two weeks between races, and I'd hoped that we weren't asking too much from him. Even though it was a hard race at Keeneland, he snapped out of it quickly."

Sheppard said the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita was packed down tight, making it play more like a firm turf course than other synthetic surfaces. He anticipates a different type of track here, which could pose a new challenge for Cloudy's Knight.

"At Woodbine, I expect [the Polytrack] to be a little deeper and cuppier," Sheppard said. "I don't expect it to be like it was at Santa Anita. I don't know how he's going to handle it."

Sheppard said Cloudy's Knight has worked twice at his Pennsylvania farm since the Marathon, once on the grass and once on a wood chip track.

"He's fit and he's sound," said Sheppard. "I think he's going to give it his best. Whether that's good enough, who knows?"

Rosemary Homeister Jr. will ride Cloudy's Knight, the 121-pound highweight in the 10-horse field.

Eagle Poise, owned by the powerful Juddmonte Farms, is making his first start for trainer Brian Lynch, following the death of his previous trainer, Bobby Frankel.

Eagle Poise was in fine allowance form prior to ending up second in the Sept. 27 Ontario Derby. He blew away the field in the 1 5/8-mile allowance prep for the Valedictory.

Lynch said he had anticipated a strong showing in the prep from the 3-year-old Eagle Poise, who is by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and out of an Epsom Oaks winner.

"He ran a good race in the Ontario Derby," Lynch said. "He trained on very good out of that race, and he's bred to get that sort of distance. When they want to run that far on their genetic side, it's a big help in the training of them."

Lynch also entered Find the Wire, a turf specialist with a poor synthetic track record who was based in New York until recently.

Torquay won the 2007 Valedictory impressively for owner-trainer Nick DeToro, who claimed him for a mere $12,500 in 2005. He was entered in last year's running, which was on the portion of the closing-day card that was cut short after the jockeys voted not to continue due to the extreme cold.

Torquay is winless in 14 starts since his Valedictory triumph, but he is coming off a second in the prep, finishing eight lengths behind Eagle Poise.

Pool Play captured the nine-furlong Durham Cup Stakes at 11-1 in his second start off a layoff Oct. 4. He rallied wide for third last time out in the 1 1/16-mile Autumn Stakes.

Solitaire, the third-place finisher in last year's Queen's Plate, captured the 1 5/8-mile John's Call Stakes on the turf at Saratoga in August.