Kentucky-breds Speaker’s Corner, making his first appearance in a Grade 1 race since a sixth-place finish in last year’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1), rolled to an impressive win in the Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct on April 9, while Nest, a 3-year-old filly by Curlin, ran away from her rivals in the Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on April 8.
In the Carter, Speaker’s Corner, a 2018 son of Street Sense, raced in second position early and took command before hitting the half-mile mark in :46.11. The early move propelled him to the lead, and he stormed home to win as he pleased by 4 ½ lengths at the wire. He stopped the timer for the seven furlongs in a fast 1:21.34 under jockey Junior Alvarado. The Godolphin homebred is trained by Bill Mott.
“He is a horse who we’ve always been very high on,” said Alvarado. “We figured out what he wants to do. He’s a very good miler. Today, we had a great trip, and he was there the whole way around. He was very much the best horse. He took the lead around the half-mile pole and after that, he was just doing his thing. He ran them off their feet. He’ll be a tough horse this year.”
Mott added, “We thought he was talented as a 2-year-old. He had some little issues that we had to give him time for and then we had to give him more time than what we wanted to, but right now it looks like it’s turned out well. That was a prime target (winning a Grade 1). That was the goal.”
The win was the third in a row for Speaker’s Corner, who is now 6-for-9 lifetime with earnings of $572,130.
Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House’s Nest drew off to post an 8 ¼-length victory in the 85th running of the Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on opening day of the Keeneland Spring Meet.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr., Nest covered the 1 1/16-mile distance over a muddy main track in 1:44.16. With the win, Nest earned 100 points and secured a berth in the starting gate for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6 at Churchill Downs.
“Irad got her into a good, comfortable rhythm going down the backstretch, and we didn’t want anyone to get away from us with the short run to the finish line,” said Todd Pletcher. “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.”
Nest has now won 4-of-5 lifetime starts and has banked $623,050. She was bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stable. She sold at the 2020 Keeneland September Sale for $350,000.