10/21/2009 11:00PM

Turfers exit holding pattern


ELMONT, N.Y. - A handful of contenders in the weather-delayed Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park had been sitting on ready for a while, so what's four more days?

It shouldn't matter much for a group of veterans in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile race, since their schedules had already been in a state of flux.

The race will have a new favorite, however, after on Thursday over an ownership issue.

The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Danak has run just twice since finishing a close sixth in the 2007 Arlington Million, and not at all since being pulled up and vanned off as the favorite in the 2008 Fourstardave at Saratoga, when he reportedly lost a shoe and sustained some cuts behind.

Yorktown, idle since an allowance win in late August, scratched from the Oct. 4 Kelso when it was rained off the Widener turf. He was entered in the Shadwell Turf Mile the following week, but trainer Graham Motion didn't even bother to ship him to Keeneland when the course came up yielding.

"We weren't looking to run him on soft ground," said Motion, who won this race with Better Talk Now in 2003. "I'm a little frustrated I haven't gotten to run him."

Operation Red Dawn, third in the 2007 Knickerbocker when it was run at Aqueduct, has posted all of his career victories at Belmont for Christophe Clement, and has run only once since a wide trip in the Poker Stakes on June 14.

"It's been very difficult to run that kind of horse this year anywhere because there are very few 'beaten' allowance races," said Clement. "He should win more often. He's an older horse that tries."

The now horse is Brave Tin Soldier, who won the Cliff Hanger just 19 days ago for McLaughlin.

"He has improved quite a bit in New Jersey," said assistant trainer Artie Magnuson.

Nergal, Cherokee Speed, and Lemon Cream Pie are also entered for turf. The Knickerbocker was supposed to be run last Sunday but was rescheduled due to a poor weather forecast.