10/18/2010 2:18PM

Harmonious heading home, next start uncertain

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Harmonious, Joel Rosario up, wins the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Harmonious is scheduled to return Thursday to her southern California base in the aftermath of her sensational victory Saturday in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Trainer John Shirreffs was decidedly non-committal about the next race for Harmonious, who captured the $400,000 QE II by 4 1/4 lengths under Joel Rosario. Shirreffs does not appear particularly eager to run the filly back in the Breeders’ Cup and would seem inclined to wait for more suitable races in California after giving her a little more time, such as the Grade 1 Matriarch on Nov. 26 at Hollywood Park.

Harmonious, a homebred Dynaformer filly owned by Marty and Pam Wygod and their daughter, Emily, earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in showing more early speed than usual and dominating down the stretch. The victory was the fourth in six career starts for Harmonious.

Meanwhile, a Breeders’ Cup decision remained pending for Evening Jewel, the third-place QE II finisher, trainer Jim Cassidy said Monday morning from California. Cassidy and owner Marilyn Braly are trying to determine whether to run the filly in the BC Ladies’ Classic or Filly-Mare Sprint.

“We’re talking about it later today and should be able to come up with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” said a joking Cassidy.

One other QE II runner, Check the Label, is through for the year, which was the plan going into the race anyway, according to trainer Graham Motion. Check the Label, who had a four-race win streak in graded turf stakes snapped when finishing sixth Saturday, will race next year at 4.

Breeders’ Cup work tab getting busy

The half-mile breeze by BC Classic contender Blame on Sunday morning at Keeneland was one of a growing number posted in recent days by Breeders’ Cup prospects, as the final rounds of workout action in Kentucky have begun in earnest.

Blame went in 47.60 seconds over Polytrack and will work again Sunday at Keeneland. The colt will be vanned Oct. 27 to Churchill Downs and have his final prerace work under the lights before dawn on Oct. 31, according to trainer Al Stall Jr.

Other notable works were turned in over the weekend at Churchill by First Dude (Classic), Haynesfield (Classic), Mine That Bird (Dirt Mile), Tell a Kelly (Juv. Fillies), My Jen (F-M Sprint), Switch (F-M Sprint), Secret Gypsy (F-M Sprint), and Pluck (Juvenile Turf).

Meawhile, a decision on the BC Turf status of Paddy O’Prado will be made Thursday, according to Jerry Crawford, who heads the Donegal Racing syndicate that owns the standout 3-year-old colt.

Cloudy’s Knight stil on for Sycamore Cloudy’s Knight is part of an overflow field of older turf marathoners entered in the Grade 3, $100,000 Sycamore Stakes, which begins the stakes action this week with its 16th running Thursday.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said recently that 10-year-old Cloudy’s Knight apparently tweaked an old injury several weeks after his runner-up finish in the Sept. 11 Kentucky Cup Turf, but that he was optimistic the gelding had recovered to the point that the Sycamore was possible. Cloudy’s Knight won the Sycamore last year when ridden by Rosemary Homeister, who has the mount back Thursday. Sheppard has won the Sycamore five times.

Presious Passion, noted for his habit of gunning away to huge leads in these types of races, also is entered in the 1 1/2-mile turf race. Fourteen are entered, although only 12 can start.

Two records on one day

The weather has been extremely dry and summer-like in the Bluegrass region this fall, which may or may not have anything to do with how fast the Polytrack surface has been playing at Keeneland.

How fast is it? Well, two Polytrack records were set in back-to-back claiming races here Sunday. Pickpocket Patty won the second race, for $16,000 filly-mare claimers, when finishing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.99, and a half-hour later, it was Suyeta narrowly prevailing in $50,000 company when getting 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.34.

Lopresti batting .800

Trainer Charlie Lopresti maintained his hot hand when Happenstance ($8.40) won the fourth race Saturday at Keeneland. Lopresti is 4 for 5 at the meet, including a win in the Phoenix Stakes with Wise Dan, and has won with a remarkable 9 of his last 15 starters, dating to mid-August.

The Keeneland-based Lopresti has two Breeders’ Cup hopefuls in Here Comes Ben for the Dirt Mile and Wise Dan for the Sprint.

St. Julien looks to return

Jockey Marlon St. Julien, who rode in two races at Keeneland on Friday, said he will attempt to ride regularly again on this circuit, with Anthony Martin as his agent. St. Julien rode on the Kentucky circuit in the late 1990’s.

St. Julien, 38, became the first African-American to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 79 years when he finished seventh aboard Curule in 2000. He has 2,044 wins in a career that dates to 1989.

Nina Fever wins again

Nina Fever became the first two-time winner at the fall meet when she easily won a starter-allowance Saturday at Keeneland. A 2-year-old filly by Borrego, Nina Fever finished 6 1/2 furlongs in a rapid 1:15.02 to earn an 88 Beyer Figure. Seventeen-year-old apprentice Marcelino Pedroza notched his second career win and is now 2-for-2 aboard Nina Fever and 0-for-8 with other mounts.

◗ The day-long college scholarship raffle held last Friday attracted more than 3,400 students to register, according to David Schneck of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, which co-sponsors the event with Keeneland.