Nest Romps in CCA Oaks

Nest | Coglianese Photo

Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House's Nest (Curlin) found herself somewhat surprisingly on the lead early in Saturday's GI Coaching Club American Oaks, but still left little doubt as to who the top sophomore filly in the country is right now as she galloped home 12 1/4 lengths clear of main rival Secret Oath (Arrogate) in the Saratoga stretch.

Having seen a three-race win streak snapped when she settled for second as the favorite to Secret Oath in the May 6 GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, Nest was coming off a solid second to stablemate Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) in the GI Belmont S. June 11. Despite having lost a two-length decision to Secret Oath in their prior match-up, Nest was installed the public's 4-5 pick over the last-out GI Preakness S. fourth finisher.

Expected pacesetter Society (Gun Runner) was one of the two inside runners to break awkwardly, and Nest immediately to their outside was ridden along by Irad Ortiz, Jr. to seize the narrow lead with Nostalgic (Medaglia d'Oro) and Secret Oath not far behind while one and two paths off the fence, respectively. Society was headstrong in behind the leading trio, and snuck up the fence midway on the first turn to take over briefly. Nest put a head back in front after the opening quarter of :24.10 and before the :47.46 half.

Secret Oath was given her cue by Luis Saez to challenge Nest entering the home bend, and the stage appeared set for a throwdown that could very well decide Eclipse honors at the end of the year. But by midway on the turn it was clear that Nest had far more to give, and the bay quickened nicely with a couple reminders from Ortiz in upper stretch before being wrapped up late.

“My plan was not to be on the lead, but I wanted to break good out of there,” Ortiz said. “Honestly, that was the main thing and I tried to break, and she broke clean and I realized the other filly didn't break well. So I said, 'let's go, Plan B.' I was in front and didn't panic. I just let her do her thing. That was [how] the race came up. Everything changed when the gates opened and I just let her do her thing and she did the rest.”

A five-length debut romper routing at Belmont last September, Nest was a close third in the Tempted S. that November before making the grade by a neck in Aqueduct's nine-panel GII Demoiselle S. Dec. 4. She resurfaced to dominate Tampa's Suncoast S. Feb. 12, and doubled up by daylight in Keeneland's GI Central Bank Ashland S. Apr. 8 ahead of her Oaks and Belmont appearances.

“It's funny how you spend a lot of time analyzing a game plan and then, as they say, everything can change at the break–which it did today,” said Pletcher, winner of a record eight renewals of this event, including one each previously in back-to-back years for Repole (Stopchargingmaria {Tale of the Cat}, 2014) and Eclipse (Curalina {Curlin}, 2015). “The main thing is we wanted to establish some position, get away smoothly and get to the first turn in a forward position. We were able to do that even though everyone wasn't positioned exactly where we thought they would be. It turned out to ultimately to have those four fillies bunch up together and [Nest] was able to fend off the challenge from Secret Oath and keep going.”

Nest and Secret Oath are both likely to return for the 10-panel GI Alabama S. Aug. 20. As for the decision to run in this spot as well, Pletcher said, “We've run a lot of horses in the Belmont over the years, but we've never had one come out any better than she did. She had great energy and she gained weight since that race. She gave us every indication she was ready to run back. Originally, we thought we should wait for the Alabama, but she was just doing too good to bypass this race.”

The runner-up's trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Pletcher's former boss, offered: “I think coming in here, shipping in is always difficult. The winner ran a super, super race. She won fair and square. We hung a little bit. We needed, I think, to have been a little tighter on this track. Coming in here and shipping from out of state is tough–it always has been, and I've been here 50 years. It's always been a place where you do a little better if you have an out over it. But the good news is we'll have another shot.”

Saturday, Saratoga
COACHING CLUB AMERICAN OAKS-GI, $485,000, Saratoga, 7-23, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:51.04, ft.
1–NEST, 121, f, 3, by Curlin
                1st Dam: Marion Ravenwood (SW, $112,598), by A.P. Indy
                2nd Dam: Andujar, by Quiet American
                3rd Dam: Nureyev's Best, by Nureyev
($350,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and House, Michael; B-Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr.. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 8-5-2-1, $1,405,550. *1/2 to Dr Jack (Pioneerof the Nile), MSP, $156,155; Full to Idol, GISW, $426,964. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Secret Oath, 121, f, 3, by Arrogate
                1st Dam: Absinthe Minded (MSW & MGISP, $607,747), by Quiet American
                2nd Dam: Rockford Peach, by Great Above
                3rd Dam: Strawberry Skyline, by Hatchet Man
O-Briland Farm; B-Briland Farm, Robert & Stacy Mitchell (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas. $100,000.
3–Nostalgic, 121, f, 3, by Medaglia d'Oro
                1st Dam: Been Here Before (SP), by Tapit
                2nd Dam: Connie Belle, by Storm Cat
                3rd Dam: Minister's Melody, by Deputy Minister
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-William I. Mott. $60,000.
Margins: 12 1/4, 3, 2HF. Odds: 0.95, 1.20, 20.30.
Also Ran: Society, Butterbean.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

Pedigree Notes:

One of Curlin's 18 Grade I winners, Nest is the third daughter of the two-time Horse of the Year to take the CCA Oaks, joining the aforementioned Curalina and 2020 heroine Paris Lights. She is bred on the same cross with A.P. Indy as stablemate and 2021 champion 3-year-old filly Malathaat, who looks to avenge a narrow loss to Clariere (Curlin) in last month's GI Ogden Phipps S. in Sunday's GII Shuvee S.

Both Clairiere and Paris Lights are out of mares by top broodmare sire Bernardini, and Nest's stakes-winning dam Marion Ravenwood is bred on the same cross as Bernardini, being out of a Quiet American mare herself.

In addition to Nest and 2021 GI Santa Anita H. hero Idol, Marion Ravenwood is responsible for $275,000 KEESEP '21 yearling Lost Ark (Violence), who took his unveiling by 5 1/2 lengths for Pletcher and Harrell Ventures earlier this month at Belmont. Out of GSW/GISP and $2.5-million FTKNOV seller Andujar, Marion Ravenwood was barren to City of Light in 2021 and was bred to both Quality Road and Curlin for 2022 but a foal has not been registered as of now.

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