'Unfinished Business' — Champion Nest Back in Training for 5-Year-Old Campaign

Mike Repole and company lead Nest into Saratoga's winner's circle following the Alabama | Sarah Andrew

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After an abbreviated three-race campaign in 2023, Nest (Curlin) has returned to training for her 5-year-old season.

Mike Repole bought out his partners in the champion 3-year-old filly of 2022–Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House–for a co-topping $6 million at last fall's Fasig-Tipton November sale.

“When we put her in the sale, I really went there with a game plan of she might retire as a broodmare,” Repole said.

“The Japanese were bidding on her and I've seen so many of these horses go to Japan, and, honestly, I didn't want her to go. If it was Mandy Pope, Coolmore or Spendthrift bidding on her, I would've probably let her go. So, I now owned her 100 percent without partners and I thought, 'You know what? Let's race her.'”

Repole continued, “We gave her time and she's training now at Stonestreet in Ocala. She should be back to Todd (Pletcher) by May 1. I'm excited to watch her run at Saratoga and into the year.”

Nest's sensational sophomore campaign was led by a trio of wins at the top level–the GI Central Bank Ashland S., GI Coaching Club American Oaks and GI Alabama S.–and also runner-up finishes in the GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Belmont S., respectively.

Nest brought a co-topping $6 million at the 2023 Fasig-Tipton November sale | Fasig-Tipton

Fourth as the favorite in that term's GI Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland, Nest kicked off her 4-year-old stand a bit later than anticipated due to a fever, but she showed no signs of rust with a stylish 2 1/4-length victory over MGISW Clairiere (Curlin) in the GII Shuvee S. at Saratoga July 23. She didn't look anything like herself in her next two attempts, however, beaten both times as the favorite behind future champion Idiomatic (Curlin), finishing a punchless third in the GI Personal Ensign S. at Saratoga Aug. 25 and a well-beaten fourth by 11 1/4 lengths in the GI Spinster S. at Keeneland last out Oct. 8.

“She started late last year,” Repole said. “She ran a great first race and it was probably a little bit too much, too soon. We'll try to get her there a little bit earlier this year–maybe get a race into her in either June or July. We'll get her a nice spot and go from there. We're excited about bringing her back.”

Were any issues discovered with the bay following her head-scratching effort in Lexington last fall?

“Yeah, she was fourth,” Repole replied with a laugh. “And Nest doesn't usually run fourth. She had three races in like an eight-nine week period and it was just too much. She's had a really good rest and I think we have some unfinished business.”

One of 21 Grade I winners for the mighty Curlin, Nest was bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables. She brought $350,000 from Repole Stable and company as a yearling out of the Ashview Farm consignment at the 2020 Keeneland September sale.

Her stakes-winning A.P. Indy dam Marion Ravenwood–also responsible for 2021 GI Santa Anita H. winner Idol (Curlin); MSW & GSP Lost Ark (Violence); and MSP Dr Jack (Pioneerof the Nile)–brought $2.6 million from Coolmore's M. V. Magnier in foal to Curlin at the 2022 Keeneland November sale.

Repole is also vested in Nest's aforementioned big brother Idol, who began his career at stud as a Repole Stable/Taylor Made Stallions Venture in 2023 after carrying the colors of Calvin Nguyen during his racing career.

As for Nest, Repole concluded, “She's healthy, happy and sound. And ready to race one more year and maybe make a run for champion older filly.”

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