Colt Mo Donegal and Filly Nest Secure 1-2 Punch in Derby and Oaks

Todd Pletcher’s Promising Weekend: A Kentucky Derby and Oaks Contender

Kentucky Derby Dreams with Mo Donegal

Todd Pletcher, the renowned Hall of Fame trainer, had quite the weekend filled with potential winners for both the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. Let’s start with Mo Donegal, the three-year-old colt who provided Pletcher with his record-tying seventh Wood Memorial title and secured a spot in the Derby. With a neck victory over Early Voting in the 1 1/8-mile Derby prep at Aqueduct, Mo Donegal showcased the resilience and determination needed to excel in the prestigious event.

Pletcher expressed his admiration for Mo Donegal’s performance, highlighting the well-executed race tactics and commendable effort. Although the hot pace scenario didn’t quite materialize as planned, Mo Donegal showed an impressive sustained run and unleashed a speedy final quarter. Pletcher attributed his success to finding opportune moments and a strong closing kick.

With the Wood Memorial victory, Mo Donegal solidified his position as a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher has observed the colt’s aptitude for the demanding mile and a quarter distance, an essential component for success in the “Run for the Roses.” Pletcher plans to familiarize Mo Donegal with the Churchill Downs track well in advance of the May 7 Derby. The growing confidence in Mo Donegal’s abilities has prompted a decrease in his odds, with bookmakers now offering favorable chances with odds of 6/1 and 12/1.

Todd Pletcher’s Pursuit of a Third Derby Triumph

As a highly accomplished trainer, Todd Pletcher has experienced victory twice in the Kentucky Derby. His triumphs came in 2010 with Super Saver and in 2017 with Always Dreaming. This year, he aims to secure his third Derby win with Mo Donegal. Adding to the stakes is the ownership group, Donegal Racing, seeking their first Derby victory after placing third with Paddy O’Prado in 2010 and Dullahan in 2012, along with a seventh-place finish with Keen Ice in 2015. Pletcher’s expertise, coupled with the potential of Mo Donegal, has instilled confidence in their pursuit of Derby glory.

Pletcher’s Kentucky Oaks Contender: Nest

Todd Pletcher’s success wasn’t confined to the Derby alone. The day before, Pletcher witnessed Nest’s remarkable triumph in the Grade 1 Ashland Oaks at Keeneland. Nest, a filly of immense talent, left her competitors in the dust with a staggering 8 1/4-length victory. This win positions Nest as a strong contender for the Kentucky Oaks, providing Pletcher the chance to claim his record-tying fifth Oaks victory and match the legendary Woody Stephens.

Drawing parallels between Nest and last year’s Oaks winner Malathaat, Pletcher has taken a similar path with both fillies. Nest, like Malathaat, broke her maiden on debut at Belmont before progressing to run in the Tempted and the Demoiselle, followed by the Ashland. Additionally, both fillies share notable bloodlines as Curlin fillies out of A.P. Indy mares, granting them exceptional pedigree.

A Stellar Performer

Pletcher has expressed his unwavering belief in Nest’s abilities, comparing her to a star after her Ashland victory. The young filly has shown consistent improvement with each race, providing palpable excitement for her future endeavors. Nest triumphed in her debut, an impressive mile and a sixteenth race, defying the odds for a first-time starter. Pletcher has always believed that as Nest matured and faced longer distances, she would flourish and exhibit her true potential.

Like her stablemate Mo Donegal, Nest will make her way to Churchill Downs for a series of breezes ahead of the anticipated Kentucky Oaks on May 6. This strategic plan ensures that both horses are acclimated to the renowned track, providing them with the best chance for success.


Todd Pletcher’s recent weekend achievements have created an air of anticipation and excitement in the racing world. With a potential Kentucky Derby winner in Mo Donegal and a formidable Kentucky Oaks contender in Nest, Pletcher’s expertise and strategic approach have positioned him as a leading figure in the industry. As the Derby and Oaks draw nearer, all eyes will be on Pletcher’s talented runners as they strive to etch their names into horse racing history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How many Kentucky Derby titles has Todd Pletcher won?

Pletcher has secured two Kentucky Derby victories thus far in his illustrious career. His first came in 2010 with Super Saver, followed by another win in 2017 with Always Dreaming.

2. What is the significance of the Wood Memorial in the Kentucky Derby qualifying process?

The Wood Memorial is one of the key prep races on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Winning this race guarantees the victor a spot in the prestigious Derby, providing a clear path towards competing in the renowned event.

3. How does Todd Pletcher’s ownership group, Donegal Racing, fare in the Kentucky Derby?

Donegal Racing has been a prominent presence in the Kentucky Derby, with several notable performances. Although victory has eluded them thus far, they achieved impressive third-place finishes with Paddy O’Prado in 2010 and Dullahan in 2012, and a seventh-place finish with Keen Ice in 2015. The ownership group remains determined to secure their maiden Derby win.

4. What makes Nest a strong contender for the Kentucky Oaks?

Nest’s dominance in the Grade 1 Ashland Oaks, combined with her impressive bloodlines and consistent improvement, has solidified her position as a formidable contender for the Kentucky Oaks. Pletcher’s strategic approach, paralleling last year’s Oaks winner Malathaat, further highlights Nest’s potential for success.

5. How does Todd Pletcher prepare his horses for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks?

Pletcher understands the importance of acclimating his horses to the Churchill Downs track. Prior to the Derby and Oaks, Pletcher sends his contenders to Churchill Downs for a series of breezes, allowing them to familiarize themselves with the track and optimize their performance on race day. This meticulous preparation ensures that Pletcher’s horses are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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