September 25, 2022

Deep-closing Red Knight in fine form for McKnight

Red Knight winning the 2019 Point of Entry (Coglianese Photography)

Being a 1 1/2-mile event, Saturday’s $200,000 W.L. McKnight (G3) at Gulfstream Park doesn’t quite rise to the level of a consolation prize to the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) scheduled some 35 minutes later. There are form lines shared with some Pegasus entrants, though, with Red Knight perhaps the one to fear off a second-best run to Sadler’s Joy in the Nov. 23 Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct.

The definition of a horse that can run all day, Red Knight overcame a 19-length deficit to claim the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens S. in December 2018, his only prior run on the Gulfstream sod. He’ll need pace, though, which could be provided by 2019 Jerkens winner American Tattoo, who won his renewal over 1 1/4 miles when weather forced the race to be switched to the main track. American Tattoo placed in the Marathon (G2) over 1 3/4 miles two back, but has yet to try turf either here or in his native Argentina.

Ex-claimer Temple won the Gio Ponti S. at Aqueduct prior to a recent third as the favorite in the Tropical Park Derby, while Pumpkin Rumble is multiple graded-placed on the turf but has done his very best work over Woodbine’s Tapeta surface. Apreciado, Salute the Colonel, and Spooky Channel are other potential threats, as is Cross Border if he chooses this race over Sunday’s John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3).

The companion race to the McKnight for fillies and mares is the $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3), also at 12 furlongs. Lady Paname‘s career has been interrupted twice by layoffs of more than a year, but the 2018 Long Island (G3) winner still figures to get bet hailing from the Chad Brown stable. Touriga, last-out scorer of the Via Borghese S. for Graham Motion, and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Simply Beautiful, who’s thrice-placed at Group 3 level, will also be looked at.

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Shekky Shebaz, winner on the Claiming Crown card in early December following placings in the Belmont Turf Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), looms the danger in the $150,000 World of Trouble Turf Sprint over 5 furlongs. Local mainstay Pay Any Price, 15-for-21 on the Gulfstream turf, is the one to catch, while Texas Wedge invades from California following a rallying win in the Joe Hernandez (G2) at Santa Anita.

Girls Know Best could be a slight favorite in the $150,000 Ladies’ Turf Sprint, also at 5 furlongs. She was most recently third in the off-the-turf Abundantia S. to Jean Elizabeth, a speedball who’s won 12 of 18 but makes a belated turf debut here. Factorofwon comes in off a freshening for Christophe Clement and owns positive form over the course.

The $150,000 South Beach, for fillies and mares at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf, should have as its solid favorite Grade 3 scorer Mitchell Road, wire-to-wire heroine of the Dec. 14 My Charmer S. last time. Another with early foot is Conquest Hardcandy, runner-up in this race last year who’s much better than her latest at Keeneland would suggest.