08/29/2004 11:00PM

Cloudy's Knight looks best


CHICAGO - Arlington's Summer Festival of Racing has ended, and summer itself - what there was of it during this strangely chilly season - is playing final chords. But judging from the Wednesday racing program here, the meet will not go out with a whimper.

Four of Wednesday's nine races are for allowance horses, and even the entry-level race for fillies has attracted runners. Quick Temper, in from Kentucky, showed early season promise, but the filly that bears watching is the locally based Jennie R., an impressive maiden winner in her last start. That action comes in race 6, while race 3 is an unusually strong Illinois-bred dash, and race 8 a good open second-level allowance sprint.

The feature is the seventh, for third-level allowance horses or $62,500 claimers, at about 1 1/8 miles on turf, and among the nine entrants appear names more than vaguely familiar to Chicago racing fans. Holy Conflict and Ivan Jay Perry both have raced 19 times over the Arlington grass. Lacer has made 11 starts here, Image eight. But the horse to beat is the relative newcomer Cloudy's Knight.

got in four starts last year at age 3, but came more fully to hand this summer, winning consecutive allowance races here in May and June. Quickly - perhaps too quickly - Cloudy's Knight was moved up to stakes competition, and after contesting a sluggish pace on a boggy course in the July 4 Stars and Stripes Handicap, he backed up and finished sixth, beaten almost 10 lengths.

But five weeks later, Cloudy's Knight was back - back to racing and back to allowance company. Held up in last behind a false pace, he made a strong stretch run and finished second, beaten a neck. On Wednesday, Cloudy's Knight will have an extra half-furlong and quite probably more pace to help him along. He has post 9, Rene Douglas, and a good chance to win.

There are several other viable contenders, among them , who somehow has managed to go winless in his 19 starts over the Arlington grass. Elsewhere, he has gone 7 for 21 on turf.

"I don't know what it is about this place," said trainer Greg Geier. "He always seems to catch somebody that runs a little better, or to get into some kind of trouble."

There was trouble in Holy Conflict's last start, when he got into traffic in the stretch run of the Sea o'Erin Handicap and never had a chance to run, finishing seventh. But to play Holy Conflict to win, one has to buck a trend of historic proportions.