10/24/2007 12:00AM

Romans has filly perfectly situated

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - If the 12 fillies and mares entered for Friday's featured ninth race at Keeneland were starting on dirt at Churchill Downs, instead of over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland, Mostbeautifulstorm would rank as a midpriced contender. But racing over her favorite surface and over her best distance of seven furlongs, she looms the filly to beat.

The reason is clear. Mostbeautifulstorm is 2 for 2 over Keeneland's Polytrack strip, compared to 0 for 9 elsewhere.

Racing in a Keeneland maiden race last fall, she closed from seventh to score a 2 1/2-length victory at 6-1. Six months later, she returned to Keeneland and upset heavily favored Her Majesty by a neck in a first-level allowance, this time connecting at7-1.

Her odds are unlikely to be as large Friday against a $54,000 second-level allowance field. She is the 4-1 second choice behind the 3-1 Marquee Delivery on the morning line.

Although winless in three races since her spring victory, she has raced in difficult company, running third in an open allowance race at Churchill Downs, fourth in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on turf at Del Mar, and most recently seventh in the Sept. 2 Torrey Pines Handicap there over Polytrack.

"She didn't come out of that last race in as good of shape as she normally does," said trainer Dale Romans. "But she's back doing well."

Mostbeautifulstorm, a late-running 3-year-old daughter of Storm Boot owned by Jerry Crawford and Gary Kirke, has recorded three solid half-mile breezes at Churchill Downs this month leading up to her return.

Romans said he hopes she shows the same affinity for the track that she has in previous starts.

"It's playing a little different," he said of the Keeneland surface, in reference to speed holding better than in past meets over Polytrack.

A good field is assembled to face Mostbeautifulstorm, including several who have similar performances at a high level over Polytrack.

Marquee Delivery, like Mostbeautifulstorm, has recorded her two victories over the Keeneland surface. She also has twice run second over Keeneland's Polytrack surface from four attempts over it.

Before winning a first-level allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 6, she also ran well over the Polytrack at Arlington, finishing second in the Sweetest Chant Stakes on July 28 and third in the Grade 3 Arlington Park Oaks on Aug. 18.

Other stakes-placed fillies in the race include V. I. P. Princess, Unforgotten, Call the Kitty, Suzy Smart, and Magical Ride.

Cloudy's Knight gets Japan Cup invite

Cloudy's Knight, winner of Sunday's Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine, has been invited to compete in the Nov. 25 Japan Cup, trainer Frank Kirby said Wednesday.

"I don't really know if we'll go," he said. "I'll meet with the owners in a day or two, see how everything looks, and make a decision. He's run nine times this year, and run hard the last four or five times."

Cloudy's Knight, a gelded 7-year-old son of Lord Avie bred and owned by Jerry and Shirley Schwartz - who race under the name S J Stables Inc. - has made over $2.07 million, with more than $1.7 million of that coming this year alone. Besides the 2007 International, his other 2007 victories came in the Grade 2 Sky Classic at Woodbine and the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup.

If Cloudy's Knight does not run in the Japan Cup, he would be freshened in Illinois for a 2008 campaign, Kirby said.

Bluebloods in maiden race

Pedigree enthusiasts will find plenty to choose from in Friday's seventh race at Keeneland, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race for juvenile fillies. Foremost among the competitors are two impeccably bred first-time starters: High Surf and Indy Cheers.

Indy Cheers, trained by John Ward Jr. and owned by Debby Oxley, is a daughter of A.P. Indy and the first foal to race out of Blithe, an unraced half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

And yet her pedigree cannot match that of High Surf. She is a daughter of Storm Cat out of the champion mare Surfside, whose dam was another champion, Flanders.

High Surf, bred and owned by Overbrook Farm, is the second foal to race out of Surfside. The other, Shark, a son of Danzig, has placed in two stakes this year.

"She has been working well and seems very smart," said High Surf's trainer, Dallas Stewart.

Fayette closes out meet

Entries were drawn Wednesday for Saturday's closing-day card at Keeneland, which is highlighted by the 49th running of the Fayette. The Fayette, a Grade 3 at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack, drew a field of nine, led by Brass Hat and Stream Cat.

The Fayette is one of seven races scheduled for Saturday. Simulcasts of the Breeders' Cup will be shown at Keeneland throughout the day.

Racing in Kentucky shifts to Churchill Downs in Louisville on Sunday.