11/09/2008 1:00AM

Nistle's Crunch overcomes traffic troubles


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It didn't come easy, but Nistle's Crunch proved best in the frantic final yards Sunday when capturing the Grade 3, $112,900 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.

Nistle’s Crunch, ridden by Robby Albarado, got a great inside stalking trip before the stretch drive of the Commonwealth Turf, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to 3-year-olds. Full of run, the colt tried to go outside, then inside, only to be blocked both times. Finally, inside the eighth pole, the colt shook free after angling back to the outside, and he made a terrific surge to prevail by a half-length over Seaspeak, with the top five finishers separated by less than a length. Jimmy Simms was third, followed by Snoose Goose and Veiled Prophet.

"He was dressed and ready at every point down the lane," said Albarado. "Fortunately I got out, and he came home nice."

Nistle’s Crunch, a New Jersey-bred by Van Nistelrooy, returned $17.20 as fifth choice in a field of 10 after finishing in 1:44.48 over a firm course. Owned by the Alien Farm of Michael Harrison and Alan Furst, he now has won 4 of 14 starts, with the Commonwealth Turf marking his first stakes triumph.

It was the second straight tough beat for Seaspeak, the 2-1 favorite under Kent Desormeaux. Four weeks beforehand, in the Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland, Seaspeak finished first in a photo, only to be disqualified for interference.