(November 9, 2008) – Alien Farm’s Nistle’s Crunch emerged from behind two dueling leaders inside the sixteenth pole to rally to win Sunday’s fifth running of the $112,900 Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs by a half-length over 2-1 favorite Seaspeak.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, Nistle’s Crunch rode the hedge in the run down the backstretch while racing in mid-pack and continued to save ground until the head of the stretch. Albarado had to wait for room as favored Seaspeak made the first move at Jimmy Simms, who had taken the lead from Cherokee Triangle turning for home.
At the sixteenth pole, Nistle’s Crunch got clear sailing and breezed past Seaspeak and Jimmy Simms to complete the 1 1/16 miles on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:44.48. The victory over nine rivals was worth $66,500 and increased Nistle Crunch’s career earnings to $356,251.
Nistle’s Crunch is a New Jersey-bred son of Van Nistelrooy out of the Island Whirl mare Sam Eye Am.
Trained by Ken McPeek, Nistle’s Crunch returned mutuels of $17.20, $6.60 and $4.40. Seaspeak, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, prevailed by a neck in a four-horse photo for second and returned $4.40 and $3. Jimmy Simms, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, paid $4.60 to show.
Snoose Goose and Veiled Prophet were noses apart in fourth and fifth, respectively, and were followed in order by Amazing Results, Cherokee Triangle, Allsarott, Mr Maccool and Boss Lafitte.
Live racing at Churchill Downs resumes Tuesday with a 10-race program on Veterans Day. The special holiday card will begin at 12:40 p.m. ET.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE COMMONWEALTH TURF
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on NISTLE’S CRUNCH (Winner)
“He was dressed and ready every point down the lane. I just bided my time and waited for some room. I had some opening at the eighth pole and tried to dive in there but got squeezed out. Fortunately I got out late and he came home nice. It was a nice finish. I think the turf course is a little soft today and conducive to his style. He got over it real nice. One of his other better races was over the Colonial [Downs] turf course when it stormed and rained and it was deep and sloppy. So I think he likes it with a little cut to it.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on NISTLE’S CRUNCH (Winner) – continued
Q: Was the cut in the ground the difference between this start and his last?
“It’s hard to say. Keeneland is a different turf course and that was a mile race. Obviously, we beat the horse that beat us (Seaspeak). But the turf course today, the surface and the distance was fit to his liking.”
KEN McPEEK, trainer of NISTLE’S CRUNCH (Winner)
“He’s been a nice solid horse. I think the race at Keeneland was a bit of a throw out; it seemed like nothing quite went right going into the race or during the race. But Robby rode him to a ‘T’ today. I give a lot credit to my staff: [assistant trainer] Billy Wright and Marv Abrego who galloped the horse. They spend a lot of time with this horse and he hit a different level today. He’s had a couple of small issues but nothing major. He tends to not want to switch his leads right on time. Marv spent a lot of time working with him on that. We’ve just got a good team of people helping with things like that.”
ALEX CLARKSON, trainer of SEASPEAK (Runner-up as 2-1 favorite)
“He ran well and it looked like we were going to win it. The fractions were very legit, I don’t know what happened. The horse (Nistle’s Crunch) came and got him on the outside. He had him in perfect position and everything was fine. It looked like he was going to win until the last 50 yards and he just come and got him.”
Q: He ran very well…
“It’s just disappointment for Dr. Chandler (owner Dr. John Chandler) – he’s a great owner, he’s a great guy. He really gives me a lot of opportunities with these horses and I appreciate them all.”
KENT DESORMEAUX, jockey on SEASPEAK (runner-up)
“I think I was on the best horse still. He’s a little quirky – we’ll have to figure him out.
“He likes to lean on his neighbors. That got him DQ’d last time and today I think it cost him the race. He’s a little quirky. We’ll figure him out. He’s got a lot left in him, that’s for sure.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey on JIMMY SIMMS (third)
“He tried the whole way for me. Turning for home I realized I had some horse left, and he bellied down and he never stopped running.
“He was coasting the whole way. They kind of ran up on him a little bit down the backstretch and he put himself right in a good spot. He was in the bridle the whole time. I got the favorite on my outside and when he came a little bit closer, he knew he was there so he got a little bit into the bridle. He gave me a good feeling turning for home and we had a great trip.”
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