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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/24/09)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


When S J Stables’ Cloudy’s Knight returned to racing after more than a year off and captured last weekend’s Grade III Kentucky Cup Turf Stakes at Kentucky Downs, an old friend was on hand to witness the 9-year-old gelding’s brilliant 2 1/2-length tally.

That was equine masseuse Nancy Knott, who in former seasons had a professional “hands-on” relationship with Cloudy’s Knight before the courageous chestnut came under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

It was due to the patient handling of Sheppard that Cloudy’s Knight was able to return so successfully in last weekend’s 12-furlong grass marathon, but it was Knott who was considered an essential part of owners Shirley and Jerrold Schwartz’s team when “Cloudy” captured Woodbine’s Grade I Canadian International in October of 2007, won the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap in New Orleans earlier that season and was twice the runner-up in Arlington Park’s Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap.

Owner Jerrold Schwartz chose not to travel to Kentucky last Saturday to attend the races in observance of Rosh Hashanah, so his wife Shirley ended up with an extra airline ticket and offered it to longtime friend Nancy Knott.

“That was so exciting getting the chance to be there for his win,” said Knott when asked about her day in Kentucky. “To see him come back and win so easily made me so proud of him. He ran just like I knew he could. It was so good seeing him again and getting the chance to take pictures of him while we were all in the winner’s circle. ‘Cloudy’ looked wonderful. I hadn’t seen him in awhile, but Mr. Sheppard uses a European style of training that obviously agrees with the horse. HRTV said in one of their recent shows that Mr. Sheppard is the king of bringing horses back from long layoffs and he certainly proved that last Saturday.”

In addition to her masseuse duties with Cloudy’s Knight, other former patients Knott includes on her impressive résumé are the champion mare Astra, runner-up in the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington in 2002; Recapturetheglory, winner of the 2008 Illinois Derby; and Public Speaker, winner of Arlington’s Sea o’ Erin Stakes earlier this month on Labor Day.

But with summer now officially over and with the weather turning colder in Chicago this weekend, Knott will have time for her second career as the inventor and manufacturer of the “Sweeet Hat.”

The “Sweeet Hat?”

“Every morning during cold winter days I used to have a problem keeping my head warm because of my long hair,” said Knott. “I didn’t want it down around my neck because it would drive me crazy and look sloppy. I didn’t want it up inside my hat because I would look like a boy. I would end up putting it in a low pony tail and wearing a hat with a brim but then my ears would get cold.

“Finally last winter I went to the store and bought the softest ski hat I could find, brought it home, cut a hole in it, put my ponytail through the hole and found instant comfort. The first word out of my mouth was ‘SWEEET’ – like people younger than me say when describing an outstanding situation.

“I decided to start making those hats in different sizes and a lot of other colors and selling them to my friends with long hair, and things just took off from there,” said Knott. “I’ve already sold a few hundred of them, and I hope I can build on that success. Five percent of my Sweeet Hat sales are donated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.”


When the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships are held during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Nov. 6-7, racing officials will be available during the telecast, the Racing Officials Accreditation Program announced recently.

“The on-call steward will be non-judgmental, meaning he or she is not there to make a determination one way or another on any incident,” said ROAP chairman Stan Bowker.

“Instead, the on-call steward will explain in layman’s terms the nature of the incident, the applicable rules of racing and the process by which stewards determine a call as it pertains to the incident in question.”

Eddie Arroyo, Chief State Steward, Illinois Racing Board, has been named to the initial group of on-call stewards.

Other stewards named to the initial group are Stan Bowker, Hugh Gallagher, Frank Lamb, Denny Oelschlager and Kim Sawyer.

The program is modeled after the American Association of Equine Practitoners’ On-Call Veterinarian Program.

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