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The Racing Dudes team reacts to Nest romping in Saturday’s Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, then discuss who they like moving forward, including any potential longshots. Join our race replay watch-along for this Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep! Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
Nest gave her connections and many in the crowed what they were hoping for, moving to the lead fairly effortlessly on the turn for home and continuing on with strong energy to defeat Alittleloveandluck by 6 lengths in the 42nd edition of the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes.
The daughter of Curlin, out of the A.P. Indy mare Marion Ravenwood, set a stakes record for the mile-and-40-yard distance of 1:39.30, .06 faster than Vaulcluse’s 2008 time. The track record is 1:38.68, set in 2021 by Downtowner.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., rode Nest, the jockey’s second consecutive stakes victory and fourth on the card. She paid $2.60 to win as a huge favorite in the seven-horse field. Blamethechampagne finished third and Ha’ Penny was fourth.
Nest improved to 3-for-4 in her first start since winning the Grade II Demoiselle Stakes on Dec. 4 at Aqueduct. She earned $60,000 for the victory. Nest is owned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House and trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.
“She made it look easy,” Ortiz said. “I was in a great position in the first turn, and after that I just sat on her and enjoyed the ride. I just let her go all the way through the stretch.”
Pletcher, who watched the race from south Florida, texted his delight after the race. “We’re all very pleased with her performance,” he said. “She did it professionally and seemed to finish with good energy. We’re very excited. She should improve with time and distance.”
The Suncoast Stakes is a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race, awarding 10 points to the winner toward qualifying for the May 6 showcase at Churchill Downs and 4-2-1 to the next three finishers. Nest has been nominated to the Triple Crown, meaning her connections might have grandiose ambitions of running her against the boys in one of those classics.
“We haven’t even thought about that,” said Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “Right now, we’ll just enjoy this and hope she takes the next step.”
That could be the Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes on April 8 at Keeneland, which would lead into the Kentucky Oaks.
“I have a great group of partners here and we’re all so excited,” Wellman said. “Irad made a brilliant move popping her out of the first turn between horses and getting her out in the clear, and after that we could take a deep breath and let her enjoy herself out there.”
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