09/07/2010 1:02PM

Cloudy's Knight could be biggest star on Kentucky Cup card

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Photos by Z/Keeneland
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard is considering bringing the 10-year-old Cloudy's Knight to Kentucky Downs for Saturday's Kentucky Cup Turf.

FLORENCE, Ky. – Unlike previous Septembers at Turfway Park, when the prestigious Kentucky Cup brought the fall meet to a crescendo late in the month, the fall-meet highlight is coming early this year.

The Turfway Park Fall Championship – the only stakes race left at the meet after the Kentucky Cup was canceled – will be run this Saturday on the third of 16 fall programs. And even then, the Grade 3, $100,000 race could be overshadowed somewhat.

Turfway will be assimilating simulcasts of the Kentucky Cup turf races from its sister track, Kentucky Downs, into a marathon all-in-one Saturday card. Three Kentucky Cup races will be run at the Franklin, Ky., turf-only track, and it appears they could have the most compelling story of the day if – as appears likely – Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard decides to send Cloudy’s Knight from his Pennsylvania farm for the Grade 3, $150,000 Kentucky Cup Turf.

Sheppard said Tuesday that he intended to work 10-year-old Cloudy’s Knight at Delaware Park on Wednesday morning, and that “if all goes well, we will go ahead and ship.”

Cloudy’s Knight has not raced since winning the Grade 2 McKnight Handicap last December at Calder. Sheppard had him ready to run in April in the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland, but the $2.5-million earner incurred a suspensory injury that Sheppard initially feared would lead to his retirement. Since then, however, Cloudy’s Knight has made steady progress, according to Sheppard, and is ready to race again.

The KC Turf goes at 1 1/2 miles. The other Kentucky Cup races are the $50,000 Ladies and $50,000 Dash. They highlight opening day of a four-day meet, with the other Kentucky Downs dates being Sept. 13, 18, and 20.

As for the Turfway Championship, a 1 1/2-mile Polytrack race, Coolcullen Times might be the favorite, although trainer Graham Motion has informed racing officials he might opt instead for the KC Turf. Others pointing for the Championship include Church Service, Eldaafer, Falling Knife, Lignon’s Hero, Sligovitz, and Smarten Destiny.

Saturday entries were scheduled to be drawn Wednesday for Kentucky Downs and Thursday for Turfway.

Lopresti, Kuntzweiler sizzle

The 10-1 upset by Turallure in the Cliff Guilliams Memorial on Monday’s closing-day program at Ellis Park capped a sensational weekend for the colt’s winning connections, trainer Charlie Lopresti and jockey Greta Kuntzweiler.

On Saturday, Lopresti won the first Grade 1 race of his career when Here Comes Ben captured the Forego Stakes at Saratoga, while Kuntzweiler won five races at Ellis.

“I really feel like I’m in a groove now,” said Kuntzweiler, who was winning a stakes for the first time since she returned in June from a 4 1/2-year absence marked by substance abuse problems. “Everyone has been great about giving me opportunities. I’m really excited about the momentum this gives me for Turfway and beyond.”

Kuntzweiler, 35, ended the meet as the sixth-leading rider with 18 wins, with eight of them coming in the final four days.

Simms continues courageous battle

If Tanzana continues to ascend through the 2-year-old ranks – and he took a big step up Monday by winning the Cradle Stakes at River Downs – don’t be surprised if the inspirational saga of trainer Garry Simms becomes something the national media picks up on.

For months, Simms has been battling multiple myeloma, which has concentrated mostly in his back, and despite the grueling medical treatment he has been undergoing, Simms still makes it to his Churchill Downs barn when physically able. Simms, 58, was all smiles and a picture of robust health in the River winner’s circle when noting that he has “had 14 chemotherapy treatments and have 24 more to go,” adding he also has undergone radiation treatments and had several vertebrae replaced with concrete-like devices.

◗ A number of stables that have been based at Churchill this summer have been asked to move this week to the nearby Trackside training center. That’s not only to make room for the hundreds of horses that are returning from Saratoga and other summer destinations, but also to reserve space for horses that will be arriving before too long for the Breeders’ Cup, to be run Nov. 5-6 at Churchill.

◗ Homer “Joey” Van Hoosier retired with the conclusion of the River Downs meet Monday after a lifetime on the racetrack. Van Hoosier, 70, had served as the morning clocker and as official raceday timer at the Cincinnati track for the last 21 years. Before that, he had trained horses since 1960.