Charge It to Miss G1 Runhappy Travers
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House’s Nest flew to the top of her division with a dominant victory in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama at Saratoga Race Course.
The now three-time Grade 1-winning daughter of Curlin solidified her rightful place as leader of the 3-year-old filly division with a 4 1/4-length score in the prestigious ten-furlong test. Despite stumbling at the start, Nest was able to secure her desired forward position to track longshot She’s Keen’s early fractions before making a sweeping move around the far turn under her own power. She drew off to an in-hand victory under Irad Ortiz, Jr., producing a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for the win.
“Good, excellent,” said Pletcher when asked how Nest looked on Sunday morning.
Pletcher added that he had watched replays of Nest’s superb Alabama victory several times.
“I thought it was more impressive watching the replay because watching it live, I couldn’t fully appreciate how quickly she accelerated off the turn there,” Pletcher said. “I was impressed watching it live and even more so watching the replay. Especially the start.”
Nest entered the Alabama off four week’s rest, capturing the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 at the Spa by 12 1/4 lengths. Her highly prosperous sophomore season also includes a win in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland and runner up efforts in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets against colts.
The victory provided Pletcher with a fourth Alabama victory, saddling CCA Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar  and Stopchargingmaria  to scores in both races. He also won last year’s Alabama with Malathaat, who was subsequently crowned Champion 3-Year-Old Filly.
“The Alabama is the premier 3-year-old filly race of the summer,” Pletcher said. “To pull off the double in the Coaching Club and Alabama, both four weeks apart in two blowout performances, it can’t get much more impressive than that. She’s got phenomenal stamina. What’s so impressive about it is she also has a turn of foot. It’s a pretty dangerous arsenal.”
As far as the rest of the Nest’s year is concerned, Pletcher said she could either train up to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 5 at Keeneland, or target the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame on October 9 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet or the Grade 1, $600,000 Spinster on the same day at Keeneland. The Grade 1 Cotillion on September 24 at Parx would likely not be a viable option.
Although Nest has been capable of being competitive against colts, Pletcher said he would stick to running against fillies for the time being.
“I think we just stay against our own gender for right now,” Pletcher said. “Things can change in this game. If there’s a few defections along the way, who knows? But for right now, I think we’re focused about running against fillies.”
Nest, bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stable, brags a 9-6-2-1 record and $1,735,550 in lifetime earnings.
Pletcher also spoke of third-place finisher Goddess of Fire, who garnered Grade 1 black type for the first time with a third-place finish in the Alabama. The Red Oak Stable homebred could be a likely candidate for the Cotillion.
The daughter of Mineshaft earned Grade 2 black type when second in the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds Race Course and the Gulfstream Park Oaks. She also was a distant third in last year’s Grade 3 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs.
“I thought she ran great, I was proud of her,” Pletcher said. “She ran gamely for third and it was a good Grade 1 placing for her. We’ll talk about the Cotillion, maybe.”
There was both good news and bad news out of the Pletcher barn on Sunday morning as graded stakes winner Charge It was ruled out of Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers with an abscess on his right front foot.
Initially scheduled to have his final breeze for the Travers this weekend, Charge It was out for a Sunday morning gallop.
“He galloped super, but you could tell jogging back he was a little bit tender on it,” Pletcher said. “It’s one of those things where if we didn’t need to breeze again, we might be able to get it healed up before the race, but needing to get another work into him, it’s just unfortunate timing.”
Pletcher said Charge It could target the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 24 at Parx.
“That’s our next possible target, but the foot is going to dictate when he’s going to be ready to breeze again,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher added that Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control, a half-brother to Goddess of Fire, will target the Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic on August 26. The Stay Thirsty bay is a dual Grade 1 winner at the Spa, and defeated Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Hot Rod Charlie in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on June 18 at Monmouth Park last out.
“He ran well going two turns last time, he’s been good around two turns and it’s a significant purse,” Pletcher said.
NYRA Press Office
Main photo: Nest dominant in the G1 Alabama Stakes (NYRA/Coglianese)