11/27/2015 6:25PM

Former claimer Almasty dominates Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Brad Cox long has had a reputation as a skilled claiming trainer, adept at spotting talent and improving acquired horses. But now he’s carving out another niche as a successful stakes conditioner, even if the stakes horses happen to be those he claimed.

These dual talents were on display Friday at Churchill Downs where Almasty, a colt he claimed for $30,000 in March at Fair Grounds, dominated the Grade 3, $100,000 Commonwealth Turf Stakes for 3-year-old grass horses.

Shooting to the lead under Jon Court, Almasty set legitimate fractions over a “good” turf course, going the opening quarter-mile in 23.48 seconds and a half-mile in 48.10. But except for the first quarter, while under mild pressure from the longshot Bucchero, he was able to race relatively free from competition on the lead.

He opened up a two-length margin after three-quarters in 1:13.48 and extended his lead through the stretch, crossing the wire 4 1/4 lengths in front of Jefferson Cup winner Saham.

The winner, a son of Scat Daddy owned by Rupp Racing Wentworth Brochu LLC, raced 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.41. He paid $24.40.

Quality Bird rallied to be third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Saham, and was followed by Granny’s Kitten in fourth.

Nucifera, a slight 4-1 favorite over Saham, ran eighth.

Winning rider Jon Court spoke highly of Cox after the race and the opportunities he has given him as one of his go-to riders.

“He continues to improve himself and reinvent himself with these horses he claims,” he said.

Cox, reached by telephone in New York, where he saddled Spelling Again to a third-place finish in the Go for Wand Stakes, credited his owners for the claim, noting they liked an earlier maiden victory from the horse and suggested the claim. They also had to be a little lucky to win a shake.

A winter freshening now may be in order for Almasty.

“He’s been in training all year,” said Cox.