Front-running Speak Easy Gal stretched her speed farther than she ever has before when she held off Lady Shakespeare by a head to capture the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Gulfstream Park turf at 12 furlongs March 28.
Speak Easy Gal, trained by Marty Wolfson, had never gone farther than 1 1/16 miles in her career. But with a lack of speed in the lineup and a little give in the ground, jockey Elvis Trujillo craftily parceled the 4-year-old filly's speed to a 6-1 upset.
The winner was making her stakes debut in the Orchid while posting her third consecutive victory since being purchased privately by Wolfson and owner Farnsworth Stables.
Racing on a turf course rated good, Speak Easy Gal went directly to the front while being tracked by Celtic Princess, favored Mushka and Nehantic Kat. Fractions were slow -- :50.47 for the half-mile, 1:16.35 for six furlongs and 1:40.61 for the mile. As the field made its way around the final turn and into the stretch, Celtic Princess increased the pressure on Speak Easy Gal. But the challenger yielded when she could not get past the stubborn leader, who inched away mid-stretch to lead by 1 1/2 lengths.
Lady Shakespeare, who had fallen back on the final turn for John Velazquez, charged through the lane while closing between Nehantic Kat and Mushka. But she ran out of time as Speak Easy Gal hit the wire just in front. The final time was 2:28.46.
“There wasn’t much speed in the race and I knew I was going to go right to the lead," Trujillo said. "Every time she runs, she breaks sharp, and I was able to slow things down on the lead and get away from them a little up front. She was always going along very comfortable, and it was a slow pace; very easy going for her.”
Nehantic Kat finished third, a half-length behind Lady Shakespeare, with Mushka, the 17-10 choice in the field of nine, another half-length behind in fourth.
Coming off back-to-back allowance victories on the Gulfstream turf for Wolfson, Speak Easy Gal defeated grade II winner Salve Germania by a head in her last start March 4 at 1 1/16 miles. She was previously trained by Gary Contessa.
“I ran her in this race because I thought she would be the only speed, although they pressed her more than I thought," Wolfson said. "We bought her (privately) after she finished second in the race here behind Tottie (Jan. 7)."
Wolfson said he had no immediate plans for Speak Easy Gal.
Overall, the daughter of West Acre has won five of nine races lifetime with earnings of $199,950 after collecting the winning Orchid purse of $90,000.
William F. and Annabel Murphy bred Speak Easy Gal in Florida. The chestnut filly is out of Spoken For, by Victory Speech.
Sent off as the fifth choice, Speak Easy Gal carried 117 pounds and paid $14.40, $6.60 and $5 and topped a $60.80 exacta. Lady Shakespeare, coming off a dead-heat for second in the Marshua's River Stakes at Gulfstream Jan. 16, returned $4 and $3.40. Nehantic Cat, second in the The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 11 furlongs over the course Feb. 27, was $4.40 to show.
Mushka, the 121-pound high weight, was followed by Magical Theater, Liberally, Celtic Princess, Cable and Who Plays Brahms. Changing Skies and Love to Tell scratched.