12/11/2010 2:03PM

High-weighted Telling to carry 122 pounds in McKnight

Barbara D. Livingston
Telling has won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga the last two years.

MIAMI – There are three Grade 1 winners among the 22 horses nominated for this year’s renewal of the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap, and from all indications, all three are planning to show up at Calder Saturday for the 1 1/2-mile fixture.

Presious Passion, who won this race in 2007 and 2008, will make his fourth appearance in the McKnight. He’s expected to be joined in the starting gate by Prince Will I Am, winner of the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap on Oct. 9, and Telling, who has won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer each of the last two years at Saratoga.

Trainer Steve Hobby confirmed Friday afternoon that Telling would be shipped from his present base in Hot Springs, Ark., to Miami on Tuesday for the McKnight. Telling has been off the board in his two starts since the Sword Dancer, finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“Everybody always has an excuse when their horses don’t run to expectations and I just don’t think my horse liked the surfaces that much in his last two starts,” said Hobby. “Belmont was a mess the day of the Turf Classic and Churchill Downs just watered and watered its course prior to the Breeders’ Cup because it had been so hard and it wound up being really slick on top.”

Hobby said he realizes the McKnight is coming up a competitive spot for just a $150,000 purse.

“It always seems that race comes up tougher than the money,” said Hobby, who has never been to or run a horse at Calder. “I’m not sure where we’ll go with him after this. We’ll see how he runs in this race before making any further plans.”

Javier Castellano has been aboard Telling in each of his last two starts but is committed to Prince Will I Am in the McKnight. Eibar Coa, who road Telling to a sixth-place finish this summer in the United Nations at Monmouth Park, will pick up the assignment.

Telling has been assigned high weight of 122 pounds for the McKnight, one more than Presious Passion. Prince Will I Am will carry 117 pounds.

Among the other horses expected to ship in for the McKnight are Insider Tip (113) for trainer Neil Howard, Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap runner-up Rescue Squad (116) for Shug McGaughey, and trainer Roger Attfield’s multiple graded stakes winner Musketier (120).

Castellano is currently serving the six-day suspension he was given for careless riding aboard Prince Will I Am in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Prince Will I Am finished second but was subsequently disqualified and placed 10th for causing interference near the three-eighths pole in the first of this year’s 14 Breeders’ Cup events. Castellano was subsequently involved in an altercation at the scale house with Calvin Borel after the race.

“Javier’s days end in time for him to ride in the McKnight,” said his agent, Matt Muzikar. “He’ll ride at Calder from Dec. 20-27, return to New York for a few days and then be down here on a regular basis beginning on Jan. 1.”