Godolphin Stable’s homebred Nostalgic challenged pacesetter and even-money favorite Venti Valentine before surging up the rail in the final furlong, posting a 1 1/4-length victory in the $250,000 Gazelle Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack April 9.
Nostalgic, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and ridden by Jose Ortiz, completed the stretch-drive rally to win her first career stakes and in the process secured 100 qualifying points to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs May 6. The 1 1/8-mile offered 100-40-20-10 points to the top-four finishers.
The New York-bred Venti Valentine broke on top in her first race since posting a seven-length romp in the Busher Invitational March 5 at the Aqueduct. Under jockey Manny Franco, Venti Valentine paced the seven-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in :24.48, the half in :49.26 and three quarters in 1:13.93 over the fast track.
The Jorge Abreu-trained Venti Valentine maintained the edge into the stretch, but Ortiz kept Nostalgic to task along the inside and tenaciously pursued, overtaking the pacesetter before hitting the wire in a 1:50.41 final time.
It marked the Medaglia d’Oro filly’s second consecutive win after besting allowance optional company by 6 3/4 lengths March 3 at Gulfstream Park.
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“Last time, we planned on putting her up in the race a little bit, which we did again today,” Mott said, who previously won the Gazelle with Close Hatches in 2013. “We wanted to see her engaged early a little more and she did it. She held her position and came through on the rail. I didn’t tell him where to be other than we didn’t want to be 15 lengths back.”
“She just hadn’t learned how to put in that kind of a run yet,” Mott added. “She hadn’t learned how to get that position. It all goes together, it’s just maturity, time and she had a good winter at Payson Park.”
Off at 4-1, Nostalgic returned $10.60 on a $2 win bet. She improved her career earnings to $235,400.
After running fourth in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) to cap her juvenile campaign in December at the Big A, Nostalgic ran ninth in the Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3) in February at Gulfstream Park before earning a winner’s circle trip in her last two starts.
“I knew she was doing well,” Ortiz said. “She ran amazing last time. She woke up which was the most important thing. As a 2-year-old, she won first time out but she was very green. She’s big and she’s supposed to keep going longer and longer. I am very excited about her. Moving forward, we’re going to be fine with her.”
Jose Ortiz smiles aboard Nostalgic after her victory in the Gazelle Stakes
Abreu said the Kentucky Oaks is under consideration for Venti Valentine.
Video: Gazelle S. (G3)
Glass Ceiling Draws Away in Distaff Handicap
Glass Ceiling showed she could be a strong contender when capturing the Garland of Roses Stakes to conclude her 2021 campaign. The Constitution mare has capitalized on that experience as a 5-year-old, improving to 3-for-3 after overtaking Kept Waiting from the outside and finishing strong for a five-length win in the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3), a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.
Co-owned by Michael Foster along with trainer Charlie Baker, Glass Ceiling started the year with an off-the-pace optional-claiming score in January at Aqueduct before posting a half-length win in her graded stakes debut last out in the Barbara Fritchie Stakes (G3) in February at Laurel Park, with both wins coming at the Distaff distance.
The 68th running of the Distaff saw Glass Ceiling break sharply from the outermost post carrying 122 pounds with Dylan Davis aboard. Glass Ceiling settled into second position as Kept Waiting led the five-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in :22.98 and the half-mile in :45.98 on the fast main track.
Out of the turn, Glass Ceiling stayed within striking distance of Kept Waiting as 3-5 favorite Search Results maintained her position in third. Jockey Kendrick Carmouche maintained Kept Waiting’s position to the inside, but Davis used right-handed encouragement to coax Glass Ceiling, who had plenty in reserve in surging to the wire in a final time of 1:21.71.
Glass Ceiling wins the Distaff Handicap
Glass Ceiling, bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm, captured her fourth consecutive race and for the fifth time in her last six starts. Her lone non-winning effort in that span was a narrow head defeat in a division of the Pumpkin Pie Stakes in October at Belmont Park. Sent to post at odds of 2-1, Glass Ceiling returned $6.50 on a $2 win wager. She improved her career earnings to $613,512.
“It could be that she’s just maturing, but it could be once Charlie got a hold of her and I was able to get on her—maybe it’s just the jockey and horse combination,” Davis said. “I get along with her well and I think Charlie is the main ingredient behind the success with her.”
Baker said the time between the Distaff and the upcoming $300,000 Bed O’ Roses Stakes (G2) June 10 at Belmont could make that a good spot with an eye toward the Ballerina Stakes (G1) this summer at Saratoga Race Course.
New York-bred Kept Waiting produced another strong effort, besting show finisher Search Results by 8 1/2 lengths for second. The latter, a grade 1 winner, returned Saturday from a layoff of eight months.