For a few brief seconds, the race everyone wanted to see on July 23 in the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga Racetrack was right there.
Nest versus secret oath . The two best 3-year-old fillies in the country were about to battle it out. Let’s go.
Then, as quickly as the confrontation materialized, it disappeared.
Nest and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. ignored his opponent’s offer and took a dominating victory in the 1 1/8 mile race.
The final margin of victory was 12 1/4 lengths, and it could have been more if Ortiz had continued to push his mount as it approached the wire.
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If it was a fight, he would have been stopped.
Or, as Mike Repole, co-owner of Nest with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, put it, “If it was a football game, it would have been 49-0!”
Since CCA Oaks was moved to Saratoga in 2010 from Belmont Parkthe biggest margin of victory belonged to another rider Pletcher, Princess of Sylmar winner by six lengths in 2013.
Nest returns home to the Coaching Club American Oaks
The daughter of Loop —Marion Ravenwood by PA India , established herself as the head of the division. Going into the CCA Oaks, it was a draw between Secret Oath, winner of the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Nest, who finished second in that race.
Nest, however, had secured some major style points when she finished second after stumbling at the start in the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1) behind her stablemate. Mo Donegal .
Secret Oath, meanwhile, had taken an eight-week break following its fourth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 21.
Nest’s Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher was originally scheduled to wait for the Alabama Stakes (G1) on Aug. 20 in Saratoga because he wanted to give his filly time to recover from the grueling Belmont against the boys. The filly apparently had her own program.
“We’ve raced a lot of horses in the Belmont over the years,” Pletcher said, “but we never had a better one than her. She had a lot of energy and she put on weight. gave every sign she was ready to turn back.”
Pletcher’s instincts were spot on and he has now won the CCA Oaks for a record eighth time.
Around the far bend, Briland Farm’s Secret Oath, a girl of fire Arrogate , put themselves on a par with Nest, but only briefly. Secret Oath couldn’t stay with her, and there would be no match racing on the wire. The rout was open.
“We were beaten fair and square,” Secret Oath Hall of Fame coach D. Wayne Lukas said, watching Nest return to the noisy winner’s circle from his box in the clubhouse. “(Secret Oath) acted with me like she needed this race more than I expected.”
“She ran really well and she tried,” said Secret Oath jockey Luis Saez. “The winner continued.”
Lukas says he will go back to the drawing board and prepare his filly to face Nest again in Alabama in a month.
Nest, the 3-5 favorite, paid $3.90 and was clocked in 1:51.04. Secret Oath was three steps ahead of Godolphin Nostalgic . Company owned by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds finished fourth and Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek) and William Klimashousky’s Butter bean was fifth.
The complexion of the race changed at the start when Society, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, stumbled out of the gate, as did Butterbean, who was alongside her in post position 1. Society was expected to be the ringleader with Nest taking the chase.
The Company (centre) and Butterbean (right) have trouble in the door as Nest (left) gets a clean break
With the lead up for grabs, Ortiz took it.
“I wanted to get out of there,” Ortiz said. “It fell apart and I realized that (the company) hadn’t broken well. So I said, ‘Let’s go’. I was in front and I didn’t panic. Everything changed when the doors opened, and I let her do her thing, and she did the rest.
Nest has won five of eight starts and has never finished worse than third in his career. She accumulated income of $1,405,550.
“You know, I definitely thought she was the best 3-year-old filly in the country,” said Repole, who won that race in 2014 with stop chargingmaria . “She’s been running amazing races all year.”
Co-owner Mike Repole is waiting for Nest to return to the winner’s circle
After Secret Oath won the Kentucky Oaks, it was a popular and sentimental victory thanks to Lukas, an 86-year-old game icon. Pletcher was one of the first to praise Lukas, for whom he worked as an assistant for seven years before striking out on his own in 1995.
As Lukas sat in the box seats and watched his former student celebrate, he smiled. If he couldn’t win this, he was just rooting for each other.
“Oh sure, absolutely, gosh,” Lukas said. “It’s family. We’ve been side by side for a long time. I said to Todd before the race, ‘Let one of us take this.'”
Nest and its connections come together in the winner’s circle
Video: Coach Club American Oaks (G1)
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