10/21/2009 11:00PM

Race may have two Marathon prospects

JJ Zamaiko Photography
Cloudy's Knight, a 9-year-old, is having a successful comeback after more than a year off.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The trainers of Cloudy's Knight and Free Fighter say they have given cursory consideration to the Breeders' Cup for their horses, although the perfect storm might have to develop for any follow-through to occur. In the meantime, their respective trainers, Jonathan Sheppard and Chris Block, would be happy just to see their horses put forth big efforts Thursday when the Grade 3, $125,000 Sycamore Stakes is run at Keeneland.

While none of the Sycamore starters would seem to merit inclusion into the $3 million BC Turf on Nov. 7, both Sheppard and Block have made passing mention of the $500,000 BC Marathon, a 1 3/4-mile Pro-Ride race set for Nov. 6 at Santa Anita, for their long-winded stars. But first things first.


The 9-year-old Cloudy's Knight, a former Canadian champion and earner of nearly $2.2 million, will try to follow up on a terrific comeback triumph in his role as the likely favorite in the Sycamore, a 1 1/2-mile turf fixture run around three turns. Making his first start for Sheppard after being unraced for more than a year, Cloudy's Knight won the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf on Sept. 19 with an eye-catching rally, at least temporarily relegating his weak 2008 form into the memory's recesses.

"He's quite the remarkable horse," said Sheppard.

Rosemary Homeister Jr. has the mount back on Cloudy's Knight, who breaks from post 9. In all, 15 are entered in the Sycamore, although only 12 can start.

Free Fighter, based in Chicago with Block, won the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes on the Arlington Park turf in his last start Sept. 7 and will be ridden back by Jimmy Graham, who on Saturday posted the first Grade 1 win of his career with Hot Cha Cha in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Winchester is another major contender. Trained by Christophe Clement, Winchester most recently was second in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont and is still seeking his first victory since the 2008 Secretariat Stakes. Ramon Dominguez will ride the colt when in from New York for his first appearance here this fall.

Fringe players in the deep Sycamore cast include Always First, the 2008 Sycamore winner, and Rumor Has It, the likely pacesetter.