Noble Court, closing furiously from the back of the field after following a ferocious pace, surged past the leaders on the far outside to win the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) in the final strides at Hollywood Park June 6.
Joy Racing Stable's 5-year-old son of Doneraile Court, ridden by a patient Joel Rosario, edged the 24-1 outsider Rush With Thunder, who was also closing fast under Alonso Quinonez, by a half-length under urging. Star Nicholas, who had grabbed the lead from 19-10 favorite Liberian Freighter in deep stretch, settled for third with Mike Baze aboard.
Trained by John Sadler, Noble Court earned his second graded stakes win. The bay horse won the San Vicente (gr. II) at Santa Anita in 2007. He has three victories in four starts since returning from a 13-month layoff last October.
Breaking from the rail, Noble Court had one beaten through the opening half-mile of the Ack Ack, contested at the unusual distance of 7 1/2 furlongs on Hollywood's Cushion Track. Luhuk's Dancer and Mutak Gold took off at breakneck speed with quarter-mile fractions :21.66 and :43.54, but neither were around at the end as Liberian Freighter gained the lead in the lane and inched clear mid-stretch. Star Nicholas, steadily closing in the middle of the track after rallying five wide, finished well but could not hold off Noble Court on the outside and Rush With Thunder between them. The final time was 1:27.32
"I was thinking they must be going pretty fast because my horse never comes from that far back," Rosario said. "When I asked him on the turn he got to the outside and was almost immediately on top of the leaders. Then he kept going and going. Very impressive."
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton C. Jones, Noble Court is out of Grey Dawn Grey, by Grindstone. He improved his career mark to 6-2-2 in 11 starts with earnings of $335,778 after collecting $60,000 for the Ack Ack win.
"According to the Mel Stute theory, any horse that wins more than they lose is a good horse," Sadler said. "He’s now six for eleven.”
Sent off as the second choice, Noble Court paid $9.20, $5.40 and $3.60. Rush With Thunder returned $21.80 and $11.40 while completing a $2 exacta worth $204. Star Nicholas was $4.80 to show.
Liberian Freighter was two lengths back in fourth, followed by Davos, Paul's Hope, Prussian, Doppio, Sierra Sunset, Luhuk's Dancer and Mutak Gold.
It was a disappointing return for Sierra Sunset, making his first start since winning the 2008 Rebel (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park.