What do question marks in the title tell us?...Is it the author has no real clue about the subject matter? Did he pass grammar class with a flying “D” which he thought stood for diploma? Or is it simply life is full of questions and the author is seeking answers?
All of the above may be true, but in this case, we delve into the sport of kings, which is all about questions as things change with the swish of a tale in this game. Let’s dispense with the hillbilly rhetoric and get down to business.
On June 11, the Belmont Stakes will be run for the 154th time. As the oldest of the Triple Crown races, this mile and a half roll on the New York dirt has long been a race circled on the sports calendar. While the “test of a champion” has dashed dreams over the years, it has also sent euphoric chills through many in a sport built on adrenaline. Although there is no Triple Crown on the line, this race still offers plenty of intrigue. So here’s where we start asking questions.
Three-year-old males dominate the landscape, but if a filly feels game she is welcome to try. Nest may just be that fleet-footed female. She is not a definite just yet as a breeze on June 4 will provide the final piece to her puzzle, but she is under heavy consideration.
So what does she have going for her? You begin with her conditioner, Todd Pletcher. As one of the leading trainers in the entire country and a three-time winner of these Belmont Stakes (2007, 2013, 2017), this Texas native obviously knows the path to the winner’s circle. Only three fillies have won the Belmont (1867, 1905, 2007), but one of those winners (Rags to Riches) was trained by…you guessed it…Todd Pletcher.
Having exited the Kentucky Oaks off a second-place finish on May 6 in great shape, Nest has provided Pletcher with some good signs.
“Her pedigree says distance and we have always thought longer was better with her”, says Pletcher of this daughter of Curlin. “Her training has gone well and she continues to display all the right signs.”
Another of the positives on the pedigree is her grandpappy on her mammy’s (Marion Ravenwood) side is 1992 Belmont Stakes champion A.P. Indy. Her father, Curlin, finished second in the 2007 Belmont to…you guessed it again…the Todd Pletcher trained filly Rags to Riches.
As an accomplished horseman, Pletcher will not make a snap or rushed decision. Yes, big challenges can yield big results, but as always, the horse comes first.
“If we put her in the race it will be because she took us there”, says Pletcher. “We have spoken with the owners (Repole Stables, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Michael House) and they are in favor of running as long as she tells us she is ready.”
Nest has won two of three starts this year and four of six lifetime with a second and third-place finish. So, is there an answer to the title question? If she gets in the starting gates, of course, she can win. Everything about her says she has a real chance, and besides, this is horse racing. This year’s Kentucky Derby proved once again that anything can happen. But, when you have a fast filly, Todd Pletcher, and the Belmont Stakes in the equation, the addition does not require shoe removal.