05/02/2008 12:00AM

Mr. Nightlinger wires Aegon Turf Sprint


Although Friday's Grade 3, $126,400 Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill was contested at five furlongs on turf, it was essentially over at the start. Mr. Nightlinger, the 9-5 favorite, left the gate quickly, shooting straight to the lead, while 3-1 second choice Indian Ashton broke three lengths behind the field.

With the lead to himself, Mr. Nightlinger was able to set an easy opening quarter-mile in 22.63 seconds over the firm course, maintained his advantage with a half-mile in 44.72, and remained clear in the stretch to complete five furlongs in 56.18. He won by a length, paying $5.60.

Salute the Count, fourth entering the stretch, rallied mildly along the inside to grab second, a length in front of the late-running Atticus Kristy, who closed to edge Indian Ashton for the show position.

Winning rider Jamie Theriot said the key to the race was Mr. Nightlinger making the front.

"Put him on the lead, and he'll relax himself," he said.

The Aegon Turf Sprint marked the second straight stakes victory for Mr. Nightlinger, following the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland on April 13, which he also took wire-to-wire. Both races were the only two grass sprints of his career.

"We found a new home for him," Theriot said.

Mr. Nightlinger, a 4-year-old son of Indian Charlie trained by Bret Calhoun, improved his record to 6 victories from 15 starts. He has made $320,015 for owners Carl Moore Management and Martin Racing Stable.