Nest Headlines Field for Grade 1 Ashland Stakes
Edited Press Release
Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House’s Nest, a winner of three of four career starts including the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes, was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies entered for the 85th running of the $600,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on April 8.
The 1 1/16-mile main track test is the ninth race on the 10-race program that opens Keeneland's 15-day Spring Meet that runs through April 29. First post is 1 p.m. ET with the Ashland scheduled to go at 5:16 p.m.
The Ashland also offers 170 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers. The Kentucky Oaks, to be run May 6 at Churchill Downs, is limited to the top 14-point earners that pass the entry box.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Nest was away from the races for two months following her Demoiselle victory and returned with a six-length victory in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 12.
Pletcher, who won last year’s Ashland with champion Malathaat, will seek to join Shug McGaughey, Stanley Rieser and B.B. Williams as the only trainers to win consecutive runnings of the race.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who has been aboard for all three of Nest’s victories, has the mount Friday and will exit position four.
Two other trainers, Kenny McPeek and Brad Cox, will be trying to add to their Ashland win totals.
McPeek, who won the race in 2002 with Take Charge Lady and in 2014 with Rosalind, will send out Cocktail Moments for Dixiana Farms. Third in the Davona Dale (G2) in her most recent start, Cocktail Moments will be ridden by Corey Lanerie and leave from post position seven.
Cox, winner of the 2018 running with Monomoy Girl, will be represented by Flurry Racing Stables’ Interstatedaydream, a 5-2 co-second choice. A winner over allowance company by 8 ¼ lengths at Oaklawn Park in her 2022 debut, Interstatedaydream will exit post position two and be ridden by Florent Geroux.
Invading from California is Reddam Racing’s three-time graded stakes-placed Awake At Midnyte for trainer Doug O’Neill. Third in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds in her most recent start, Awake At Midnyte (4-1) will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez and break from post position three.
The speed of the race figures to come from Gayla Rankin’s Happy Soul, also at 5-2. Trained by Wesley Ward, Happy Soul has won her past three starts by a combined 26 ¼ lengths and will be making her two-turn debut with regular rider John Velazquez aboard. Happy Soul drew post position six.
The field for the Ashland with riders and morning line odds, from the rail out, is: Miss Mattie B (Joel Rosario, 15-1), Interstatedaydream (Geroux, 5-2), Awake At Midnyte (Gutierrez, 4-1), Nest (Ortiz Jr., 2-1), Sterling Silver (Jose Ortiz, 15-1), Happy Soul (Velazquez, 5-2), Cocktail Moments (Lanerie, 12-1) and Heavenly Hellos (Edgar Morales, 50-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.