Nest launches Keeneland Spring Meet with classic win in Central Bank Ashland

April 8, 2022

Pletcher-trained filly punches ticket to Kentucky Oaks

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House’s Nest swept past Interstatedaydream at the top of the stretch and drew off to post an 8¼-length victory in the 85th running of the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) for 3-year-old fillies to highlight the opening day of the 15-day Keeneland Spring Meet. 

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Nest covered the mile and a sixteenth on a muddy main track in 1:44.16. The victory is the second in the race for Pletcher, who won last year with eventual champion Malathaat. Pletcher, Keeneland’s all-time leader in stakes victories with 60, becomes the fourth trainer to win the race in consecutive years. 

With the victory, Nest earned 100 points and locked up a starting position in the gate for the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 6 at Churchill Downs. The Oaks is limited to the top 14-point earners that pass the entry box and with 120 points, Nest sits comfortably in third. 

Cocktail Moments rallied to edge Interstatedaydream by a nose for second and picked up 40 points for finishing second, a total that ranks 10th on the leaderboard. Interstatedaydream earned 20 points for finishing third, good for 18th place, and Awake At Midnyte added 10 points to boost her Oaks total to 24 to be 14th on the list. 

Interstatedaydream led the field through fractions of :24.24 and :48.82 while being tracked by Happy Soul with Awake At Midnyte and Nest lurking just behind the top two. The leaders remained unchanged going into the far turn but were quickly joined by Awake At Midnyte in the three path and Nest, who was four wide. 

The leading quartet was reduced to a duo nearing the head of the lane. By the time the field turned for home, it was a one-horse race with no one doubting the outcome. 

Nest, a Keeneland sales graduate, is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Curlin out of the A.P. Indy mare Marion Ravenwood. Now a winner of four of five career starts, Nest added $358,050 to her bankroll and increased her earnings to $623,050. 

Favored in the field of eight, Nest returned $5.40, $3.80 and $2.60. Cocktail Moments, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $7 and $3.60 with Interstatedaydream paying $2.40 to show under Florent Geroux. 

It was another 2¾ lengths back to Awake At Midnyte with Sterling Silver, Happy Soul, Miss Mattie B and Heavenly Hellos following in order. 

Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with winning connections.

Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, Jr. in a post-race interview. (Coady Photography)

Quotes from the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1)

Irad Ortiz Jr. (winning rider of Nest)

“This filly is supposed to go a little longer – we know she wants to go a little longer (distance) – so I wasn’t afraid to move a little early. She was doing it easy, and she responded really well (when I asked). She did great. Thanks to Todd and the owners (Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House) for the opportunity to be on this nice filly.”

Todd Pletcher (winning trainer)

“Irad got her into a good, comfortable rhythm going down the backside, and we didn’t want anyone to get away from us with the short run to the finish line. I knew when he had her revved up, she was doing it pretty easily. Then she kicked on down the lane and he wrapped up on her late. So, it was everything we could have hoped for.

“She’s a filly that’s improved all the time. She was able to win her debut going a mile and a sixteenth, which you don’t see many horses do. We’ve always felt like as she matured and the races got longer, she was going to get better. I really liked the way she’s been training since the Suncoast (Stakes-L, at Tampa Bay Downs). She’s just kept getting better and better.”

Corey Lanerie (rider of runner-up Cocktail Moments)

“I was a little wider than I would’ve like to have been. I had her right behind the winner. She just proved she was better than us today. My filly galloped out really well, and we are looking forward to her next race.”

Kenny McPeek (trainer of Cocktail Moments)

“I’m really pleased with her run. She’s a big strong filly, and we thought that she would run well.”

On running in the Kentucky Oaks

“I don’t know. I have to talk to Bill (owner William Shively).”

Florent Geroux (rider of third-place finisher Interstatedaydream)

“She was super sharp. I was expecting her to take the lead. She ran great. She just got a touch tired on me in the last eighth of a mile. I think she had a good run. Hopefully with another race like today she can move on, and we are hoping she can win a graded stakes soon.”

Brad Cox (trainer of Interstatedaydream)

“I was a little shocked that we were on the lead. We were in a good spot, with comfortable fractions and well within herself. The race quickened, but she stayed on. Just no match for the winner. I will talk with (owner) Staton Flurry, but probably we will skip the (Kentucky) Oaks and shop around for a Grade 2 or 3 race. We will have her ready for the Oaks if there are some defections.”

Racing continues Saturday with an 11-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m. ET and features five graded stakes headlined by the 98th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a major prep for the Triple Crown. The Toyota Blue Grass is the ninth race with a 5:10 p.m. post time. 

Keeneland Press Release
Photo: Nest (Coady Photography)

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