10/27/2009 11:00PM

Cloudy's Knight switches directions


A case of mistaken identity - well, sort of - might be what landed Cloudy's Knight in the leadoff race in the two-day Breeders' Cup, the $500,000 Marathon.

After Cloudy's Knight won the Oct. 22 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland, trainer Jonathan Sheppard said he and the gelding's owners had agreed they likely would bypass the Breeders' Cup in favor of the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile turf race on Nov. 7.

"We were under the impression the Red Smith was at Belmont, but it's at Aqueduct, which of course has a smaller configuration of its turf course," said Sheppard. "That kind of turned us all around."

So after what Sheppard called "a couple of quite long talks" between himself and owners Shirley and Jerrold Schwartz, "we decided to pre-enter in the Marathon and ship him to California, see how he does and how the competition stacks up. I'd say we'll most likely run."

As a Sovereign Award winner and earner of more than $2.2 million, Cloudy's Knight is the most highly decorated and richest prospect for the Marathon, which drew 11 pre-entries. Before the Sycamore, Sheppard said the distance of the Marathon "shouldn't be a problem for the horse."

Unlike last year, when the inaugural BC Marathon was run at 1 1/2 miles on the main Pro-Ride course at Santa Anita, the race has been lengthened to 1 3/4 miles for this year. The run into the first of three turns was perhaps a bit too short, but BC officials also said in a March press release when announcing the change that they were looking "to bring the race in line with the category standards of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities," which coordinates rules and standards among 58 racing countries.

Meanwhile, it looks like Mastery will be a solid favorite in the Marathon, at least if his latest race is to be believed. Campaigned by the Godolphin Racing powerhouse and trainer Saeed bin Suroor, the British-bred 3-year-old Mastery won the Group 1 English St. Leger at 14-1 on Sept. 12 and has earned nearly $1.2 million from eight career starts.

Mastery is one of four Euros pre-entered, along with Father Time, Man of Iron, and Muhannak. Muhannak won the Marathon last year at 12-1 but has been in poor form ever since.