Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) heroine Caravel saw her winning streak snapped in the $300,000 Troy (G3) at Saratoga Saturday, as up-and-coming Cogburn coped best in the soft conditions. Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., the 7.50-1 chance swept from just off the pace to remain unbeaten in three turf starts.
Caravel, the 0.55-1 favorite, was a one-paced fourth after never really traveling. Although the star mare broke alertly and briefly showed in front, she soon lost position. Nobals was expected to speed ahead anyway, but favorite backers had cause for concern when Remuda also passed Caravel to camp in the tracking spot. Caravel swung out in an attempt to gain traction down the stretch, only to sink in the ground.
Nobals was gliding over the going. Posting fractions of :21.92 and :45.19, he put Remuda away turning into the lane and still held sway by two lengths in midstretch.
But Cogburn was just hitting his stride once steering to the outside. The Not This Time colt built up inexorable momentum to overhaul Nobals by three-quarters of a length. By clocking 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon course in 1:03.70, Cogburn returned $17.
“I thought Ricardo gave him just a perfect trip today,” Asmussen said. “Thankfully, he handled the soft turf. The concern was that he had run twice on very firm turf (at Lone Star Park), and all the rain we got yesterday – not being sure how he’d like it – but obviously it suits him well.
“I feel great to beat the field that we did today, and now we can think big. We hopefully have a Breeders’ Cup horse. We have had one Turf Sprint winner in the past (2011 winner Regally Ready), so hopefully we have another one.”
Nobals was 1 1/2 lengths clear of slow-starting Thin White Duke, who rallied to take third in the Troy for the second straight year. Caravel checked in another three-quarters of a length astern in fourth, followed by Remuda, Mister Mmmmm, and Ikigai. Grooms All Bizness was scratched.
Caravel’s connections cited the course conditions as the key factor in her loss.
“She didn’t handle it at all,” jockey Tyler Gaffalione said. “She was struggling from the get-go. She always breaks fast, but we were having a little pressure from the outside (Nobals), and he was pushing us down inside, and it just kept getting deeper the further in we went. She was all spread out the first half and just never got a chance to get under herself, and even when she did, she just couldn’t get a hold of anything.”
“It was,” trainer Brad Cox said of the soft turf. “She’s never traveled like that in her life. We’ll regroup. I don’t know where we’ll go from here.”
Cogburn kept his win streak intact in the Troy, completing a hat trick that began with the May 29 Chamberlain Bridge S. in his turf debut and the June 24 Grand Prairie Turf Sprint. The four-year-old advanced his overall record to 11-6-2-0, $591,710, for co-owners Clark Brewster and Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt. Initially promising on dirt when narrowly beaten as the favorite in the 2022 Bachelor S. and Chick Lang (G3), Cogburn had underachieved since, until finding his true home on turf.
“I think obviously he has excelled on the turf, being undefeated, and gave me a great feel today,” Asmussen said. “We put him on the turf honestly because he wasn’t performing as well as he trained on the dirt. He would run solid, but not as special as he seemed training.
“We had planned on running here and then Kentucky Downs (in the $1 million Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint [G2] on Sept. 9), but we’ll see how we come out of this and figure out what we should do.”
Bred by Bellary Bloodstock in Kentucky, Cogburn is an auction veteran who most recently sold for $150,000 as an OBS Spring juvenile. He first brought $52,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and appreciated to $310,000 as a Fasig-Tipton yearling. His dam is the stakes-winning In a Jif, by the Saint Ballado stallion Saintly Look.
One race later, blueblood Smokin’ T was all heart to secure his first stakes victory in the $135,000 Lure S. Under a well-judged ride by John Velazquez, the Shug McGaughey trainee settled off a contested pace in fourth, advanced into the fray, and gamely fended off closers on either side. As Smokin’ T was grappling with Dakota Gold on the outside, he had another challenger pounce to his inside in Portfolio Company.
The yielding inner turf could have been regarded as another opponent for him to overcome, but the War Front colt dealt with that too. Edging away from Dakota Gold by a neck, with Portfolio Company third in the photo, Smokin’ T negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.64.
A homebred for DATTT Stable, Smokin’ T has bankrolled $313,310 from his 15-4-1-4 line. The four-year-old was coming off a fine second to the loose-on-the-lead Big Everest in the May 27 Cliff Hanger S. at Monmouth. He’d gone close to a stakes score during his sophomore campaign as well, missing by a head in the 2022 Audubon S. after finishing third in the Cutler Bay S. and fourth in the American Turf (G2).
Smokin’ T is out of Grade 2 winner Wine Princess, a daughter of Hall of Famers Ghostzapper and Azeri.