Trainer Rod Lewis admitted Nobelium’s stunning last to first victory in the Iron Jack Handicap (1000m) at Belmont on Wednesday caught him by complete surprise.
Sent out a $36 chance in the field of six starters, Nobelium settled a long last for jockey Julien Kokotajlo and stood his rivals a big margin at the top of the straight.
But the Alfred Nobel gelding, racing first-up since March, let down with an explosive finish to quickly gap the field and defeated Clever Dick by 2 ½ lengths.
Lewis said he thought Nobelium had no chance of winning his second race from nine starts after he commenced slowly from barrier six.
“I just about put my head between my knees when he went back,” Lewis said.
“But he has shown potential and I always thought he would make a Saturday horse.
“I had him nominated for trials on Monday and for this, but when there were only six horses it was a no brainer to come here.
“In think he is a pretty smart horse in the making and we will wait and see what happens in the future.”
While Lewis had almost given up on Nobelium creating any impression in the race, by contrast Kokotajlo maintained faith in the five-year-old.
The French-born rider, who claimed his third metropolitan win of the season, said he had no option but to display patience from the back of the field.
“I wanted to go with them naturally, but I didn’t want to be too aggressive too early,” Kokotajlo.
“I gave him a bit of time to get on his leg and warm up nicely.
“I wasn’t happy with my position, but I felt he was finding himself.
“Coming to the corner he was starting to stretch really well.”