LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nobals is a horse who needs the lead to run his best race, and in Saturday’s $500,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) at Churchill Downs the four-year-old gelding made all to spring a 38-1 upset in the 5 1/2-furlong dash on firm ground.
Although a winner of his only previous start over the Turf Sprint course and distance, Nobals was virtually ignored by the massive Kentucky Derby Day crowd, largely due to a poor showing in his April 22 allowance prep at Keeneland.
“His last race was kind of a complete throwout. He had a little bit of a problem at the gate and broke horrible,” said trainer Larry Rivelli of the ninth-place finish.
Under jockey Gerardo Corrales, Nobals broke alertly from post 1, was on top through an opening quarter in :22.03 and a half-mile in :44.48, and withstood a belated rally from Motorious to win by three parts of a length in a time of 1:02.45. The longest shot in the field of 11, the Patricia Hopes-owned Nobals returned $78.42.
Following runner-up Motorious under the wire were Go Bears Go, Noble Reflection, 2022 Turf Sprint winner and 5-2 favorite Arrest Me Red, Bad Beat Brian, Big Invasion, Evan Sing, Oceanic, Just Might, and Carotari.
The Twin Spires Turf Sprint was the fifth stakes win and first graded score for Nobals, whose prior black-type victories all occurred over synthetic surfaces. Winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington at two, he added the Turfway Prevue and Animal Kingdom S. at Turfway Park and the Woodstock S. at Woodbine last season. Nobals has won seven of 14 starts and has earned more than $725,000.
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. John Chandler and sold for $3,500 as a Fasig-Tipton October yearling, Nobals is by Noble Mission and out of Pearly Blue, by Empire Maker.