A big day for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. at Aqueduct on Saturday continued through the $250,000 Demoiselle S. (G2), when the juvenile filly Nest edged Venti Valentine by a neck to claim the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep.
Racing wide and in midpack most of the way, Nest was set down in the stretch and outstayed long-time leader Magic Circle and Venti Valentine, who moved past the former late to grab runner-up honors by three parts of a length. Next under the wire were Nostalgic, Tap the Faith, Full Count Felicia, and Miss Interpret. Golden Essence was pulled up on the far turn.
The favorite in a field of eight, Nest paid $5.50 after covering one lap of the fast Aqueduct oval in 1:55.07. She’s owned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House.
“There have been some tight finishes and a little drama to go along with it, but I’m thankful to be on the right side of it all,” Pletcher said. “She was never able to take over and save much ground, but she got the job done.”
Nest earned 10 qualifying points toward the 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1). Venti Valentine earned four points and Magic Circle two points, boosting the latter’s total to three. Nostalgic earned one point.
The Demoiselle was the second of three consecutive stakes wins on the card for Pletcher, who was enshrined this past summer in the Hall of Fame. It was Ortiz’s third consecutive stakes win on the card, following Lady Rocket’s romp in the Go for Wand H. (G3) and Mo Donegal’s narrow score in the Remsen (G2) for Pletcher.
This was the also the seventh win in the Demoiselle for Pletcher since 2001. Among Pletcher’s other Demoiselle heroines were two-time champion Ashado, Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Stopchargingmaria, and Malathaat, who is favored to be voted champion three-year-old filly of 2021.
Nest won on debut by five lengths going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont on Sept. 25. However, a late bid fell short in the Nov. 5 Tempted S. over a mile at Belmont when Nest settled for third, three parts of a length behind Gerrymander. She’s now earned $205,000.
Like Remsen winner Mo Donegal, Nest was bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables. A $350,000 Keeneland September purchase, Nest is by Curlin and out of the stakes-winning Marion Ravenwood, a daughter of A.P. Indy and the Grade 2 scorer Andujar. Nest is a full sister to this year’s Santa Anita H. (G1) winner Idol.