10/23/2009 11:00PM

Winter View has Sheppard primed for big exit


LEXINGTON, Ky. - You would think winning would be old hat after a while, but there was Jonathan Sheppard, smiling broadly with arms upraised after the stewards had absolved Cloudy's Knight of any wrongdoing following a postrace objection Thursday at Keeneland.

The victory for Cloudy's Knight in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes marked the third in a graded stakes in Kentucky this fall for Sheppard, the 69-year-old Hall of Fame trainer who has spent a considerable portion of this month focusing on preparations for stable stars Forever Together and Informed Decision toward their upcoming Breeders' Cup runs.

Sheppard, based primarily in the Delaware Valley, surely wouldn't mind capping off his fall at Keeneland with one more stakes win - and he rates an excellent chance to do so. Sheppard will send out Winter View as a prime contender in the Sunday feature, the $125,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

Julien Leparoux will be back aboard Winter View after a two-race absence. Leparoux rode the 5-year-old mare to three straight wins this spring, scoring at Keeneland in April in an allowance and the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes before guiding her to a last-to-first score in the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs in June.

Winter View, bred and owned by Augustin Stable, was assigned post 1 in a field of 11 fillies and mares entered in the three-turn Dowager, which goes as the eighth of nine races Sunday.

Clearly the top rival for Winter View is the Southern California shipper Black Mamba, the 6-year-old New Zealand-bred mare who won the Grade 1 John C. Mabee in 2008 and most recently was a fast-closing third in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita. The Dowager is serving as a stopover for Black Mamba, as she is cataloged to be sold at auction Nov. 10 at the selected fall mixed sale at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington.

Black Mamba, with Robby Albarado riding for trainer John Sadler, will start from the opposite end of the starting gate in post 11.

Other viable possibilities in this 18th running of the Dowager include Caprice, Ballynoe, and Lemonette.