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Cogburn, Nobals Rematch Set in Ainsworth Turf Sprint

There’s a lot on the line in the Sept. 9 Ainsworth Turf Sprint (G2T) at Kentucky Downs. Not only is there the lion’s share of a $1 million purse—$400,000 comes from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund—but the winner also gains automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T).

As a “Win and You’re In” event for the event held the first weekend in November at Santa Anita Park, the race is attractive to many.

Trainer Steve Asmussen hopes to parlay a hot hand into a shot at Breeders’ Cup glory. Having won his last three times out since switching to turf, Cogburn  will line up Saturday as the lukewarm favorite at 4-1. Owned by Clark Brewster (yes, Bob Baffert’s attorney), and William and Corinne Heiligbrodt, the 4-year-old colt has made seven career starts at the 6-furlong distance featured in this race, having won 43% of those. Those 6-furlong races were run over the main track, however.

The other factor to look at with Cogburn is he appears to be finding his stride. In his last two starts, including a 3/4-length win in the Troy Stakes (G3T) last time out, Cogburn posted his career-best Equibase Speed Figure (107).

Saturday’s sprint also serves as a rematch from the Troy as the runner-up, Nobals , is also in the field. Nobals led nearly the entire Troy before Cogburn caught him with 70 yards to go. By Noble Mission , Nobals is one of two favored Larry Rivelli trainees entered in the race.

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Prior to the Troy, Nobals won two straight with victories in the Williams Garret Handicap and the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G2T).

Rivelli took over training the gelding after he broke his maiden at Presque Isle Downs. It’s been mostly smooth sailing since. Nobals has a 7-3-0 mark from 15 starts under Rivelli’s guidance. 

“A horse has to absolutely jump off the page for me to want to buy it,” Rivelli said. “For some reason, for this horse, even though the (speed figure in the maiden) was bad, it was the way he won that race. I kind of pride myself on being able to pick out an athlete and just know what I like in a horse and what I see. I really liked the horse so we pursued it and we bought the horse off the guy that paid $3,500. He did well and obviously, we did really well and it ended up being a good purchase.”

Rivelli’s other entry, One Timer , has done well since finishing ninth in last year’s St. Louis Derby. In that race, he led through the first three-quarters of a mile before fading. But One Timer capped 2022 with a nice rebound win in the Franklin-Simposn Stakes (G2T) at Kentucky Downs. He won a handicap to open the new year and then finished a game third in the Highlander Stakes (G2T), another instance where the son of Trappe Shot led late but not able to close out the race. 

Most recently, the 4-year-old won the KY Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park.  

Entries: Ainsworth Turf Sprint S. (G2T)

Kentucky Downs, Saturday, September 09, 2023, Race 10

  • Grade IIT
  • 6f
  • Turf
  • $1,000,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 4:54 PM (local)

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