10/21/2009 11:00PM

Cloudy's Knight outduels Winchester


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Cloudy's Knight surged to victory Thursday over favored Winchester in the , giving jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. her first-ever win at Keeneland while further enhancing the reputation of Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Sheppard said afterward that he will not send Cloudy's Knight, the 9-year-old former Canadian champion, to Santa Anita for the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Marathon, as he had briefly contemplated approaching the race. "It might be a little greedy," said a smiling Sheppard, citing several reasons not to go, including expense and timing.

Cloudy's Knight, the second choice in a field of 12 older horses, returned $10.20 with his 12th victory from 38 career starts. He was making just his second start for Sheppard, and his second since a one-year layoff that resulted from a soft-tissue injury to a hind leg.

Sheppard now has won 5 of the 15 runnings of the Sycamore, having previously won in 2000 with Crowd Pleaser and in 2001-02-05 with Rochester.

Over turf rated firm, longshot Rumor Has It gunned to a long early lead in the 1 1/2-mile Sycamore but was already through with six furlongs left. A scramble for the lead ensued, after which Cloudy's Knight and Winchester arrived late on the scene, with the former prevailing by a head in a side-by-side duel.

Ramon Dominguez, who rode Winchester, the 9-5 choice, lodged an objection against the winner, but crowding in deep stretch actually resulted from Yate's Black Cat, the third-place finisher, bearing out a lane or two on the top pair.

Cloudy's Knight, owned by the SJ Stables LLC of Shirley and Jerrold Schwartz, earned $75,000, giving him a career bankroll of $2,255,626. He finished in 2:30.87.

Homeister was elated after the win, saying that when she passed the eighth pole she thought her mount "might be second or third," but when Winchester engaged him to the inside, "he just took off. He's very game, aggressive, and he handled the turf course perfect."

Homeister echoed the sentiments of many racing fans when she called Sheppard "the turf master."

Ontrack attendance on a cool, cloudy afternoon was 8,942.