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Presious Passion returns in senior-laden Sycamore

The average age of the marquee names does not quite equal the number of furlongs the field will travel over Keeneland's turf course, which is 12, but experience does figure to rule in Thursday's $100,000 Sycamore S. (G3).

PRESIOUS PASSION (Royal Anthem), the seven-year-old, two-time United Nations S. (G1) winner, scratched from the Knickerbocker S. (G3) this past Sunday due to soft conditions and will be taking his first lap around the local sod. The speedy gelding, winless in three outings since the February 28 Mac Diarmida S. (G2), should have no trouble leading this pack from the start, but will be running over a course that is not as typically speed-friendly as the firmer courses he's been accustomed to winning over in New Jersey, Florida and California.

The eight-year-old MUSKETIER (Ger) (Acatenango), sidelined since taking the course-and-distance Elkhorn S. (G2) during the spring meeting, has made it a habit of finishing ahead of nine-year-old BRASS HAT (Prized) in the last two editions of the Elkhorn, and probably will have the edge on that rival again. Brass Hat, winless in eight starts since the 2009 Louisville H. (G3), always runs a good one in Lexington, but has settled for minor awards in four previous trips to town.

Of cursory interest are Kentucky Cup Turf winner REZIF (Distant View); FREE FIGHTER (Out of Place), who has struggled since winning the 2010 version of the Louisville; YATE'S BLACK CAT (Black Minnaloushe), who missed by a neck to Cloudy's Knight here last year; English Group 3 winner TAJAWEED (Dynaformer), third in the Arlington H. (G3) over the summer; and LIGNON'S HERO (Brz) (Crimson Tide), who has suffered two setbacks since an impressive U.S. debut at Churchill back in June.

One who won't make the Sycamore is CLOUDY'S KNIGHT (Lord Avie), who the Thoroughbred Times reported on Tuesday as being retired after an old suspensory injury flared up over the weekend. The 10-year-old goes out with a mark of 42-14-10-4, $2,547,835.

Named the 2007 champion turf horse in Canada, Cloudy's Knight landed the Canadian International (Can-G1), Sky Classic S. (Can-G2) and Fair Grounds H. (G3) that season. A nine-time stakes winner overall, Cloudy's Knight enjoyed a renaissance in 2009 after moving to the Jonathan Sheppard barn, winning the W.L. McKnight H. (G2), Kentucky Cup Turf (G3), Sycamore and Valedictory S., and also narrowly missing in the Breeders' Cup Marathon at Santa Anita.


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