Nicky the Vest dominates Gander Stakes

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Nicky the Vest makes it 2-for-2 in Gander Stakes Sunday under Kendrick Carmouche. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Two months after an impressive debut maiden win, Nicky the Vest stayed undefeated when running away to a dominating victory as the even-money favorite in Sunday’s $100,000 Gander Stakes for 3-year-old New York-breds at Aqueduct.

Nicky the Vest took the lead early in the 1-mile stakes before letting Lobsta head the field to his inside and through the opening quarter-mile in :23.61. That pair raced through that fraction and the half in :47.17 with Kendrick Carmouche keeping Nicky the Vest within a neck of Lobsta down the backstretch.

Carmouche asked his colt to get serious on the turn and before Lobsta could respond he lost the lead with Nicky the Vest quickly a length in front. From there, Nicky the Vest looked like he was out for a morning breeze from there, with Carmouche just using his whip to keep the colt’s attention as they romped to an 11 3/4-length victory.

“We were very pleased with him,” said Jonathan Thomas, who trains Nicky the Vest for Robert LaPenta. “He trained that way leading up to it and it’s always nice to see what you’re seeing in the morning replicated in the afternoon.”

“We felt we needed to get him out of [the gate]. His stamina is a key strength of his and we didn’t want to get him in behind horses and have him take dirt. That’s an unknown variable with him. We didn’t want to do that today, so we planned on being aggressive.”

After dominating New York-breds, Thomas now has his eye on a potential Kentucky Derby prep with the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes March 6 an option.

“If we do step out [outside of New York-bred company], he’s run well here on this track so it stands to reason we would stay here,” Thomas said. “Because we gave him 60 days between his maiden win and this start, I’d feel comfortable we could contemplate that. But we’ll leave that up to the team.”

Bred by Highclere, Nicky the Vest was purchased by Insignia Bloodstock for $110,000 at the 2019 OBS October yearling sale from Stuart Morris, agent.

Nicky the Vest is the second stakes performer for his dam Tazarine as a half-brother to the stakes-placed Mom’s Choice. Both are second generation Highclere-breds with Nicky the Vest’s Grade 3-placed granddam Doppio Espresso bought by the operation for $24,000 in the 1990s.

One of six winners from six to race out of Tazarine, Nicky the Vest is her youngest foal and first born in New York.

A two-time winner herself, Tazarine is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed Resplendency and to the granddam of Japanese Grade 2 winner Little Gerda.

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