Nagle’s “Key” claim continues to pay dividends with wire-to-wire Statue of Liberty score

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Lover’s Key, owned and trained by Reid Nagle, went out on a mission in Saratoga’s feature on Thursday –  the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Stakes series for eligible New York-sired 3-year-old fillies. The speedy chestnut Frost Giant filly held sway from gate to wire under jockey Junior Alvarado in the one-mile turf contest, and nailed down the victory by a comfortable 2 1/4-length margin.

Nagle claimed Lover’s Key for himself from Tom Bush and Empire Equines for $50,000 at Gulfstream Park on January 4. After he sorted out Lover’s Key’s tendency to drift out by adding and adjusting blinkers, the filly won four of six subsequent starts and came in second in her stakes debut in the Cupecoy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont Park on June 25.

Explaining his reason for making the claim, Nagle said, “I liked her breeding. She had a layoff and it looked like she was figuring out what was going on. It looked like she was relatively immature at that point. I take lots of chances and I end up with lots of things I wish I didn’t have, but then I end up with [some successful ones].”

Representing Nagle for his first career start at Saratoga on Thursday, while making her own Saratoga debut, Lover’s Key faced field where the top contenders seemed well matched on paper.

Out of the gate alertly, Nagle’s filly (4-1) established the lead from the get-go, leading Lady Joan (5-2), Hollywood Cat (17-1) and Paz the Bourbon (5-1 favorite) by a length around the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch through a quarter mile in 24.31 and a half in 48.52.

The leading group traveled through the far turn with their relative positions unchanged. Asked for a little more late in the bend, Lover’s Key came off the rail in upper stretch, edged away and ultimately scored the victory by 2 1/4 lengths.

Lady Joan in second finished a half length in advance of Hollywood Cat. Paz the Bourbon followed 1 1/4 lengths later. Completing the order of finish were She’s Dreamin, Silly Numbers, Carry Your Heels and Emiliana’s Hope. After six furlongs in 1:12.46, the final time for the mile over the firm inner Saratoga turf course was 1:34.97. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

“I thought she was very impressive,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “She broke out of there very good and coming to the first turn I just had to get her to relax and she relaxed very well and I knew turning for home I was going to have plenty of horse left. When I ask her, she gives me a nice run and she finished full of run by the end.”

Alvarado, who rode her to victory in her prior start, a state-bred allowance, continued, “There is nothing not to like about her. She does everything I want her to do. She has been on the lead a couple of times, but she lets me rate her. She has extension blinkers, which I was worried about the first time I rode her, but, I mean, nothing really bothers her. She doesn’t drift out at all. A very nice and lovely filly.”

Reid Nagle first talked about problem-solving with the assistance of the blinkers. “[The blinkers have] turned her entirely around. She’s very focused now,” said Nagle. “She knows what her job is and she knows where the finish line is. It’s a full cup on the [left] side and an extended cup on the right side. In two of her races she went to the lead and ultimately won, but went tightly on the first turn and on the second turn she ran to the outside rail at Gulfstream, and those were with full-cup blinkers, so we put extended cup blinkers on the right-hand side and that eliminated that issue entirely.”

On race strategy, Nagle said, “From what I’ve been told, the inner turf was a speed-favoring turf course, so I thought there would be a lot of competition for the lead. She just broke perfectly. Sometimes she doesn’t break that fast and then catches up and can easily be put to the lead. But she just broke easily and the pace was very moderate. I was surprised that it was that moderate and there wasn’t more competition for the front end.”

Bred by Akindale Farm, Lover’s Key is the second foal out of My Dinah, a multiple stakes winning New York-bred mare bred by the late John Hettinger at Akindale farm. My Dinah’s first foal, No Texting by Stormy Atlantic is a multiple winner. The mare has a 2-year-old colt by First Samurai named Sun Bahram, who has not started, and foaled a Freud colt on April 19, 2017.

Lover’s Key changed hands once at public auction, purchased by McMahon and Hill Bloodstock for $25,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale. From 12 starts she has compiled a record of five wins, a second and a third, and has earned $186,162. Nagle does not have plans for Lover’s Key’s next start.


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