Ashland Stakes, Beaumont & Santa Anita Oaks Recap

The final weekend of Kentucky Oaks preps gave us new contenders for Churchill Downs, notably Nest, who turned the G1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse on Friday into her own private procession. Nostalgic showed that she could run all day when making her stakes breakthrough in the G3 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack, and the victory of outsider Desert Dawn in the G2 Santa Anita Oaks demonstrated that nothing can be taken for granted as developing horses mature and improve. G3 Beaumont winner Matareya isn’t in the Oaks picture but has a very promising future nevertheless.

Matareya moves on up

Beaumont Stakes – Grade 3

It was a Kentucky Oaks prep in name only, with only ten RTKO points available to the winner, but the Beaumont – the highlight of Keeneland’s Sunday card – nevertheless produced a potential top-notcher as Matareya ran her rivals out of town to post her first victory in Graded company.

Nothing could have been easier for the daughter of Pioneerof The Nile, yet another winner in the Godolphin blue at the weekend, for the even-money favourite never gave her supporters a moment’s concern. Lady Scarlet towed the field along at a brisk rate with Matareya on her heels, and when Flavien Prat asked the filly to go she went, taking over at the top of the stretch and quickly putting the race to bed.

The stretch was a procession; Matareya drew off to win by eight and a half lengths from the late-closing Radio Days, with Reagan’s Daughter a length and three-quarters back in third. The clock showed 1:27 and one-half.

“I was expecting her to run a big race,” said trainer Brad Cox. “Flavien did a good job, not getting in a hurry with her. He just let things unfold as she wanted, and it worked out.”

The Kentucky Oaks is not on the agenda, but Matareya could still make it to Churchill Downs on that day for the G2 Eight Belles, over seven furlongs, on the undercard.

Dawn breaks bettors’ hearts

Santa Anita Oaks – Grade 2

They don’t know they can’t win. Desert Dawn was the filly with the least chance in Saturday’s Santa Anita Oaks, the 14-1 outsider of five against much better credentialled opponents, but no-one told her she was supposed to roll over.

All the money and all the hype were behind 3-5 favourite Adare Manor, who raced at the girth of the trailblazing Ain’t Easy for three-quarters of a mile, but as soon as she had put that rival away at the top of the stretch Desert Dawn loomed up on her outside and pushed her head in front. Adare Manor fought back gamely and the pair were in lockstep at the sixteenth-pole, but Desert Dawn found a little more for Umberto Rispoli’s urging and was a neck in front at the wire. Ain’t Easy was seven and a half lengths back in third; the time was 1:43 and one-half.

“She’s an honest filly,” said trainer Phil D’Amato. “We always thought she’d get a scenario some day where it would all work out for her.”

Before Saturday, Desert Dawn had finished no better than third in four attempts in Graded company, and had been well behind Ain’t Easy on two occasions. Now she has 108 RTKO points to her name and a shot at the Kentucky Oaks to come. Don’t make the mistake of thinking she can’t do it again.


Desert Dawn is on her way to the KY Oaks as she takes the Santa Anita Oaks #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horse #Horses #Sports #FYP

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Nostalgic keeps the dream alive

Gazelle Stakes – Grade 3

Another name was added to the Kentucky Oaks mix when Nostalgic – another Graded-stakes winner for Godolphin on a big weekend for the boys in blue – picked up 100 RTKO points and a place in the gate at Churchill Downs with a determined victory in the Gazelle at Aqueduct on Saturday.

She had missed the board on both previous starts in Graded company but showed considerable improvement here, sitting just off the pace set by the favourite Venti Valentine until unleashing a potent change of gear in mid-stretch, squeezing through a narrow gap on the rail and into the lead inside the final sixteenth. Nostalgic won going away by a length and a quarter from Venti Valentine, stopping the clock in 1:50 and two-fifths; longshot Shotgun Hottie finished with intent for third place, two lengths further back.

“As a two-year-old she was very green,” said jockey Jose Ortiz. “She’s big and she’s supposed to keep going longer and longer. I am very excited about her.”

With this stakes breakthrough, Nostalgic proved her stamina for the Kentucky Oaks distance, something that trainer Bill Mott cited as a big plus as he targets Churchill Downs. Venti Valentine, on the other hand, may skip the Oaks in favour of cutting back to a mile, according to trainer Jorge Abreu.


Nostalgic is on her way to the KY Oaks as she takes the Gazelle #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horse #Horses #Sports #FYP

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Nest stakes claim to glory

Ashland Stakes – Grade 1

The Kentucky Oaks boasted a stellar cast-list even before the final preps began, and the victory of Nest in Friday’s Ashland, the opening feature of the Keeneland meet, lent further stardust to a race that this year will be a very strong, very deep contest.

Nest will be right in the front line judging by her dominant display here, the 8-5 favourite letting second-choice Interstatedaydream put in the hard yards on the front end before moving smoothly through to challenge on the far turn. Nest was soon in front and proceeded to run right away from her rivals, drawing off to win eased down by eight and a quarter lengths, stopping the clock in 1:44 and one-fifth. The fast-finishing Cocktail Moments nosed out Interstatedaydream for the runner-up spot.

“She was travelling perfect the whole time,” said jockey Irad Ortiz. “She moved great. At the three-eighths pole I asked her a little bit, and she moved forward a little more than I wanted to.”

Nest’s victory mirrored that of Malathaat 12 months ago, with both fillies sired by Curlin and trained by Todd Pletcher. Malathaat went on to win the Kentucky Oaks and now Nest, with her first G1 safely in the bank, will be among the leading contenders to follow suit on May 6. Cocktail Moments has sufficient RTKO points to join her, although trainer Kenny McPeek has yet to commit his filly to Churchill Downs.

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