With the Moonlight Ready to Shine in G2 Lake Placid
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Ever since Nostalgic secured her first graded stakes victory in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Gazelle in April at Aqueduct, her connections have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to try added ground. The Godolphin homebred will have that opportunity on Saturday when the Medaglia d’Oro filly tries 10 furlongs for the first time in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Nostalgic has raced twice since her Gazelle conquest when finishing a troubled 10th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs, where she finished 11 1/2 lengths in arrears of Alabama-rivals Secret Oath and Nest. Nostalgic earned Grade 1 black type for the first time last out in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, finishing third behind Nest, who turned the tables on Secret Oath in that race.
Godolphin USA’s director of bloodstock Michael Banahan said the well-bred filly should enjoy the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles.
“It looks like she wants the distance by the way she runs and she’s bred for it. Ever since she won the Gazelle earlier on, [jockey] Jose Ortiz mentioned several times that the Alabama’s distance is going to suit her. Hopefully, that can get us in the mix,” Banahan said. “Obviously, we’re running against two of the best fillies in the country so she’s going to have to have something in her armor to get her a bit closer. She’s run against them before but hasn’t quite got it done yet. So hopefully, that extra distance will help.”
Nostalgic was beaten 15 1/4 lengths in the CCA Oaks, but Banahan was pleased with the effort and said she seems to enjoy her surroundings at Saratoga.
“She ran OK in the CCA Oaks and I think she likes Saratoga,” Banahan said. “We’re a little more hopeful than anything else. We realize how big an ask it is against those other two. Hopefully, we can get another Grade 1 placing with her. That would be good and it would be icing on the cake.”
Banahan welcomed the opportunity to keep Nostalgic in training for next year, and said that she could have some better options as an older filly.
“I suppose we’ll figure that out at the end of the year. She would look like physically that she could be a real nice 4-year-old,” Banahan said. “More than likely if she’s doing well, we’ll keep her in training and see if we can get a nice 4-year-old career out of her. There’s more opportunities to get a distance of ground as a 4-year-old, which is nice.”
Godolphin will be seeking their second Alabama conquest, after sending out 2012 winner Questing en route to Champion 3-Year-Old Filly honors that same year.
Jose Ortiz will retain the mount aboard Nostalgic from post 5 at 12-1 odds.
Lightning could strike twice for the boys in blue on Saturday as With The Moonlight spins back on two week’s rest for the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid, a 1 1/16-mile test for sophomore fillies over Saratoga’s inner turf course.
Trained by Newmarket-based Charlie Appleby, the Frankel bay Frankel made her North American debut when second to McKulick in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 9, but made her second stateside start a winning one in the Grade 1 Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 7.
Banahan said the current long-term goal is the Grade 1, $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 15 at Keeneland.
“Charlie Appleby was keen to run her back with the goal being the Queen Elizabeth at Keeneland and knowing that there wasn’t really a good opportunity to have a prep race before that, for her specifically,” Banahan said. “He decided to run her back a little quick after the Saratoga Oaks and have a nice six-week run to Keeneland to the Queen Elizabeth, which is our main goal.”
With this year’s Breeders’ Cup being held at Keeneland, Banahan said a start in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on November 5 is not out of the question.
“I suppose it depends, but the Queen Elizabeth is the race Charlie is looking at for the time being,” Banahan said. “The distance will really suit her. Obviously if she does well, we could wheel her back especially since the race is at Keeneland. That will be a conversation to have at that stage.”
Luis Saez will pick up the mount aboard With The Moonlight, who will break from post 1 as the 9-5 morning line favorite.
NYRA Press Office
Main photo: Nostalgic wins the Grade 3 Gazelle under Jose Ortiz (Chelsea Durand)