04/26/2007 12:00AM

Fifth Third Elkhorn Stakes preview


Friday, April 27, 2007
Keeneland - Race 9
Fifth Third Elkhorn Stakes (Grade 3)
1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
4-year-olds and upward
Purse $200,000.

CLOUDY'S KNIGHT was taken too far back in the early stages of the Muniz Handicap at Fair Grounds last time out, but was still making up loads of ground in the stretch, and now stretches back out to a comfortable distance. He won the Rossi Gold Stakes at Arlington at this distance last year, receives a solid rider switch to Julien Leparoux, and should be charging hard late. The Keeneland clockers noted that "he finished well" with a "last quarter in 23.60" for his local turf workout on April 24.
ASCERTAIN earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure for his local win 20 days ago, but he seemed a bit leg-weary in the stretch, switching back to his wrong lead when hit with a right-handed whip nearing the wire. He finished a close third in his only start at this distance, and that European pedigree should give him the stamina needed to get this marathon trip. Making the third start of the form cycle, he may get the jump on the top pick turning for home. TRANSDUCTION GOLD held gamely despite setting solid fractions in the Muniz, and may revert to stalking tactics in this spot. He gets a major rider switch to Kent Desormeaux, and could gain first run on likely pacesetter RAMAZUTTI from stalking range. Transduction Gold was only beaten a neck in his previous start at this demanding distance. ALWAYS FIRST hasn't raced since last fall, but he classes up very well with these horses, and should get some pace to attack in the lane. This barn does very well with horses returning from long layoffs, and Garrett Gomez gets the mount. DRILLING FOR OIL was the beaten favorite in his local prep, but he's better at this distance as evidenced by his 11 furlong victory three starts back. He's a lightly-raced colt with plenty of upside, and will be a big price. BEE CHARMER was sent off the betting choice in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream, but faded badly, and immediately went to the bench. Edgar Prado keeps the faith, and his charge should save all the ground from the hedge.
Belmont Stakes winner Jazil makes his turf debut, and he certainly has the pedigree to handle the surface. You know he'll stay the trip, but he's facing some hard-hitting turf runners, and may be undervalued.

1. Cloudy's Knight
2. Ascertain
3. Transduction Gold