10/13/2010 1:01PM

Evening Jewel, Check the Label side by side for QE II Challenge Cup

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Barbara D. Livingston
Check the Label has won four straight graded stakes heading into Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Evening Jewel and Check the Label will start alongside each other as the favorites Saturday in the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, the final Grade 1 race of the Keeneland fall meet.

Eight 3-year-old fillies were in the box when entries were drawn Wednesday for the QE II, a 1 1/8-mile turf race that once again has come up exceedingly tough. Evening Jewel has been first or second in her seven starts this year, all of them graded stakes, while Check the Label enters with a four-race win streak, all of them graded, too.

Evening Jewel, with Victor Espinoza to ride, will start from post 3, while Check the Label, Ramon Dominguez up, gets post 4.

Aside from the favorites, the field for the 27th QE II still could be considered well above average. Among the others entered are Harmonious (post 6, Joel Rosario), second to Evening Jewel in the Del Mar Oaks; Dade Babe (post 5, Florent Geroux), front-running winner of the Pucker Up at Arlington; and Snow Top Mountain (post 2, Robby Albarado), never worse than second in eight career starts, including a recent runner-up finish in the Garden City at Belmont Park.

Snow Top Mountain, bred and owned by Barbara Hunter and trained by Tom Proctor, “just keeps improving with every start,” said the filly’s everyday exercise rider, Mary Donald. “I’d say she’s ready to run her best figure yet.”

La Cloche, Perfect Shirl, and Zagora complete the lineup.

The QE II will be the ninth of 10 Saturday races, with post time set for 5:23 p.m. Eastern.

General Quarters out till next year

General Quarters, winner of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at 3 and the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at 4, will be sidelined until next spring after incurring a couple of minor injuries, said owner-trainer Tom McCarthy.

General Quarters rapped a tendon last week, then underwent surgery Tuesday at the Rood and Riddle equine clinic in Lexington to have a tiny chip removed from a knee, said McCarthy.

“There’s nothing serious,” said McCarthy. “I just wasn’t going to make the Shadwell or the Breeders’ Cup with him, so I thought now would be a good time to go ahead and take care of all this, then bring him back to the races in the spring.”

General Quarters, most recently seventh in the Aug. 21 Arlington Million, has earned $1,165,260 from 21 starts as the proverbial one-horse stable for McCarthy.

McCarthy, 76, said he likely “will claim a horse or two to stay active and to take to New Orleans for the winter.”

Cloudy’s Knight reaggravates injury

Cloudy’s Knight is day-to-day to make the Oct. 21 Sycamore Stakes after incurring a recent minor setback related to a suspensory injury he suffered in the spring, according to trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

“We were going to run in the Canadian International [Saturday at Woodbine] but obviously we’re having to miss it,” said Sheppard. “I’ll work him early next week and monitor him from there. We’d like to get another run or two from him before he’s retired.”

Cloudy’s Knight, a 10-year-old gelding, has earned more than $2.5 million. He ran second by a nose last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

Lou Brissie will get extended vacation

Lou Brissie has been taken out of training after yet another disappointing race, according to officials at Dogwood Stable, which owns the 2-year-old colt.

Lou Brissie won the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes and was second in the Bashford Manor at the Churchill spring meet before his form tailed off, ending most recently with a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Futurity here Saturday.

◗ Full fields abound here Friday, including a second-level allowance that drew Advice, winner of the Coolmore Lexington here in April 2009. The 4-year-old Advice will be making his first start in nearly 15 months for WinStar Farm and his new trainer, Richard Budge. Advice runs in the eighth of 10 races. All but two of the Friday races drew fields of at least 12, including the featured Franklin County Stakes.

◗ A 6 p.m. kickoff for the University of Kentucky home game Saturday promises to have many ontrack fans hitting the exits early again. Last Saturday, a huge portion of the ontrack crowd of nearly 23,000 had already left – surely many of them for the football game – by the time the Shadwell Mile was run as the 10th of 11 races. Another UK home game is set for Oct. 23, although game time has yet to be announced.

◗ Lentenor, a 3-year-old full brother to the legendary Barbaro, is entered in the eighth of 10 Saturday races, a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles. He has one win in seven starts.

◗ Wednesday was Make-a-Wish Day at Keeneland. Children suffering from serious illness presented trophies after each of the nine races as Keeneland treated them and their families to a day at the races.