February 22, 2024

Rivelli enters Nobals, Old Timer in Turf Sprint; Bay Storm, Behind Enemy Lines head Kentucky Downs sprint stakes

Nobals wins the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (Photo by Coady Photography)

Saturday’s blockbuster stakes action at Kentucky Downs features six graded events offering purses of at least $1 million, including three sprint events.

Turf Sprint (G2)

Larry Rivelli has a strong 1-2 punch in the 25th running of the $1 million Turf Sprint (G2), entering Grade 2 winner Nobals and Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Preview victor Old Timer. Thirteen are entered for the six-furlong affair, including an also-eligible, and Cogburn also rates as a top contender after defeating Nobals in the Troy (G3) at Saratoga on Aug. 13.

As part of the “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the Turf Sprint will award the winner a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita in early November.

Nobals reeled off consecutive stakes wins, including the Turf Sprint (G2) at Churchill Downs, before coming up three-quarters of a length short in second in the Troy. Gerardo Corrales rides the four-year-old gelding. One Timer has shown an affinity for turf course, winning last year’s Franklin-Simpson (G2) by open lengths in his 2022 finale, and the four-year-old gelding has won two of three attempts this season, including a comfortable one-length tally last out in the Turf Sprint Preview at Ellis on Aug. 6. E.T. Baird retains the mount.

Cogburn enters on the upswing for Steve Asmussen, winning three straight since switching to turf in May. The five-furlong Troy marked his first graded win, and the four-year-old colt will stretch out in trip with regular pilot Ricardo Santana Jr.

Other contenders include Dr Zempf, who returns from a freshening for Chad Brown after recording a fourth in the Jaipur (G1) on the Belmont S. (G1) undercard at short odds. The Irish Group 3 winner has dropped two straight since capturing his U.S. debut over allowance rivals in March, and Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount on the four-year-old gelding.

Dream Shake merits respect for Mark Casse following a victory in the Connaught Cup (G2) at Woodbine, and 2021 Turf Sprint winner Gear Jockey, unplaced in his 2023 opener, is back for another appearance. Last-out Colonial Downs sprint stakes winner Front Run the Fed and Grade 2 runner-up Bad Beat Brian are also part of the mix.

Ladies Turf Sprint (G2)

A nose second last year, Bay Storm tops nine females in $1 million Ladies Turf Sprint (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs. The five-year-old mare will return to the Franklin, Kentucky all-turf venue in good form for Jonathon Thomas, recording a neck score in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Sprint Preview at Ellis Park on Aug. 5, and Florent Geroux guides the early/presser.

Tony Ann, a close second most recently in the July 28 Daisycutter S. at Del Mar, invades from Southern California for Phil d’Amato. Tyler Gaffalione picks up the assignment on the speedster. Multiple stakes winner Train to Artemus, third in the third in the Smart N Fancy S. at Saratoga Aug. 15, wheels back on a 15-day rest for Kelly Breen, and she figures to show speed with Corrales.

Grade 2 winner Wakanaka cuts back to a sprint with a runner-up in the five-furlong Caress (G3) at Saratoga, and the Bill Mott-trained mare may appreciate the added ground with Joel Rosario. Our Flash Drive, winner of the Royal North (G2) and Whimsical (G3) at Woodbine in her first two starts this year, is a contender for Mark Casse after a troubled fifth in the Caress.

Ladies’ Turf Sprint Preview runner-up Quaria Comet, a convincing allowance winner at Churchill Downs two back, rates as intriguing for Paulo Lobo. The four-year-old filly broke her maiden in her Kentucky Downs appearance last fall.

Franklin-Simpson (G2)

Stakes winner and Penn Mile (G2) runner-up Behind Enemy Lines will cut back to 6 1/2 furlongs and square off against 11 rivals in the $1 million Franklin-Simpson for three-year-olds. Entries include four also-eligible runners.

Behind Enemy Lines figures to appreciate the class relief following a fifth to Carl Speckler in the Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga. That rival, a top three-year-old turf performer, came back to easily capture the recent Saranac (G3), and Behind Enemy Lines has a sprint stakes win to his credit. The English import captured his U.S. debut, the 7 1/2-furlong Cutler Bay, at Gulfstream early April. Gaffalione has the call.

Grade 3 winner Mo Stash, sixth in the Secretariat (G2) at Colonial Downs last out, will bring speed to the cut back in distance. Closethegame Sugar and Private Creed exit a 1-2 finish in the Mahony S. at Saratoga on Aug. 13. Sweet Cherry Pie will switch to turf off a convincing win in the off-the-turf My Frenchman S. at Monmouth Park, and juvenile turf stakes winner Bat Flip will make his second start of the season.