09/09/2010 2:15PM

Cloudy's Knight makes improbable comeback in Kentucky Cup Turf

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Photos by Z/Keeneland
The 10-year-old Cloudy's Knight has come back from a suspensory injury this past spring to defend his title in the Kentucky Cup Turf.

KD at a glance; for Sat.RACING SCHEDULE: Sept. 11, 13, 18, 20.POST TIME: Saturdays (with Turfway), 12:10 p.m. Central; Mondays (solo), 1:30 p.m.ADMISSION and PARKING: Free.HIGHLIGHTS: Three-race, $250,000 Kentucky Cup turf series on Saturday.PHONE: (270) 586-7778.INTERNET: kentuckydowns.com.By Marty McGee

Evidently the news of his demise was premature. Even Jonathan Sheppard had grave doubts that Cloudy’s Knight would ever see another racetrack when revealing that the 10-year-old gelding had suffered an injury in April, but here they are, horse, and trainer, ready to go again.

The setting is vintage Sheppard: Kentucky Downs, the undulating, European-style, turf-only track, where the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf will be the first race for Cloudy’s Knight since he defeated the likes of Presious Passion and Winchester in the Grade 2 McKnight Handicap last December. Even Sheppard is somewhat surprised to find himself and Cloudy’s Knight in position to defend their championship in the $150,000 KC Turf, a 1 1/2-mile race that helps kick off a four-day September meet at the Franklin, Ky., track.

Cloudy’s Knight, an earner of more than $2.5 million for Shirley and Jerrold Schwartz, incurred a suspensory injury when training toward the Elkhorn Stakes this past spring at Keeneland, and Sheppard initially feared retirement would be necessary. But “there was only inflammation in the affected area, not a serious injury,” Sheppard said this week from his Pennsylvania farm, and Cloudy’s Knight was able to return to training after several weeks’ rest.

“He was in easy training for several months, and he’s been doing so well that we thought we’d bring him back and see what he could do,” said Sheppard, who actually will be at Kentucky Downs early Saturday before departing to run Informed Decision at Presque Isle Downs that evening.

Cloudy’s Knight, with Rosemary Homeister to ride, will break from post 1 when facing as many as nine other older horses in the KC Turf, one of three Kentucky Cup races on the opening-day card. Free Fighter and Coolcullen Times look like the main opposition, although Coolcullen Times could run instead in the Turfway Park Fall Championship. At least one other Turf entrant, Sligovitz, is expected to scratch in favor of the Turfway race.

In all, six Kentucky Downs races will be run on a 16-race melded card with Turfway. The $50,000 Ladies is race 7, the $50,000 Dash is race 10, and the Turf is race 13.

Besides winning last year with Cloudy’s Knight, Sheppard also won the Turf in 2002 and 2003 with Rochester.