08/23/2007 11:00PM

Sky Conqueror one to knock off


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sky Conqueror will be the prohibitive favorite in the Grade 2, $300,000 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday.

Sky Conqueror is thought by many north of the border to be the best turf horse on the continent, a notion that was validated by Jambalaya's recent triumph in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. Sky Conqueror has beaten Jambalaya in each of their five meetings, including in the Grade 2 Northern Dancer Stakes here July 22.

Sky Conqueror's trainer, Darwin Banach, said he was thrilled to see Jambalaya get the job done in the Arlington Million.

"I was cheering for him every step of the way," Banach said. A win "could do nothing but good for our horse. There's still that question of who's better, but I think their record speaks for itself."

Sky Conqueror rallied from nine lengths back to win the Northern Dancer comfortably in his first start under 2006 Eclipse Award-winning jockey Edgar Prado, who just showed him the whip in the final furlong. Banach said Sky Conqueror tends to run straighter when he isn't hit that much.

"The first time Todd [Kabel] rode him, he didn't hit him, and he won," Banach said. "I believe he's an honest horse who might need a tap or two here and there, but all and all, he's going to give you 100 percent."

Banach is content with the way Sky Conqueror has been training.

"Everything looks good," he said. "He's had two easy breezes. He got a lot out of them."

Also entered in the 1 1/2-mile Nijinsky are Last Answer, Cloudy's Knight, Windward Islands, Royal Challenger, Pellegrino, and The Carbon Unit.

Last Answer had a productive 2006 campaign, but was a disappointment in his first three starts this year. He turned his form around in the Northern Dancer, however, finishing a solid fourth after dueling up front with French Beret.

"I didn't expect French Beret to go with him," trainer Mike Keogh said. "Turning for home, he put him away, and it still looked like he had a big shot, but then Sky Conqueror found another gear."

Keogh said Last Answer has continued to train forwardly.

"He worked a nice mile last week," Keogh said. "He's going into it just like he was before all his races last year. We're hoping for some rain [to create] some give in the ground. He doesn't handle soft ground, but he handles yielding."

Arlington shipper Cloudy's Knight was narrowly beaten in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes BC Turf Handicap on July 4.