As far as first impressions go, Nobals made a stellar one in his first-ever start outside of the U.S. for trainer Larry Rivelli.
Off a step slowly, the son of Noble Mission (GB)-Pearly Blue, quickly settled into stride and seized command from the rail, holding a 1 ½-length advantage over fellow speedster Ironstone after an opening quarter timed in :21.90. Maintaining the same lead over his rival through a half-mile clocked in :43.99, Nobals, under a confident Rafael Hernandez, turned for home with plenty left in the tank.
Down the lane, the gelding widened his advantage at will, crossing the wire a 2 ¾-length winner in a time of 1.08.15, just a shade off the track record of 1.08.05 established by now-retired champion Pink Lloyd in 2018. All in Sync was second, Ironstone was third, and Determined Kingdom finished fourth.
“He was ready to break in front of everybody, but they had a problem with horse number nine [Silent Runner] loading,” started Hernandez. “By that time, he kind of leaned back a little bit and they opened the gate. He missed half a length, but as soon as he put the four legs on the ground… you can see the time.”
It was the third straight score for the Patricia’s Hope LLC sophomore, who arrived at the Woodstock after wins in the Turfway Prevue Stakes, and the Animal Kingdom Stakes, on April 2, also at Turfway.
Overall, it was the fifth win, to go along with one second, from eight starts for the bay bred in Kentucky by Dr. A. Chandler.
“Thank you, Larry, we need more like this one,” quipped Hernandez. “You know you’re going fast, but you don’t know how fast you’re going. I was looking back, but I couldn’t see anybody.”
Nobals paid $5, $3.60 and $2.50. The exacta was worth $34.30 as he combined with All in Sync ($6.40. $3.70). Ironstone ($2.50) completed a $115.30 triactor for $2.
Determined Kingdom rounded out the superfecta, which paid $187.25 for a $1 ticket. One Timer and Doctor Jeff were scratched.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues at Woodbine on Friday afternoon at 4:50 p.m.
Chris Lomon/Woodbine Communications
Photo: Michael Burns