BREEDERS' CUP FEATURE

OCTOBER 17, 2012

Speightstown flying under the radar no longer

by John Mucciolo

The name Speightstown is not mentioned by many when speaking of the top current sires in North America, but the progeny of the champion sprinter have been on quite a roll as of late in 2012 and he is entering elite status in the stallion ranks.

Considered by many to be a speed influence, the son of Gone West is also responsible for winners of such Grade 1 races as the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Travers Stakes and Cigar Mile. He has sired a flurry of top sprinters, and quality turf performers, as well. The versatile 14-year-old can get any kind of runner, proven by a recent string of fine showings in historic races this summer. He has currently sired at least 19 stakes winners in 2012.

In the span of the past few months, horses by Speightstown have flooded the winner's circle, among those the winners of marquee events such as the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap with Poseidon's Warrior, Travers Stakes with Golden Ticket and Grade 2 Kelso Handicap with Jersey Town.

In nearly that same time frame, his two-year-old colt Weekend Hideaway, a stakes winner this summer, was a good third with open company in the Grade 2 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park; millionaire Essence Hit Man continues to run big, winning the Bold Venture Stakes in mid-July; the rising Delegation captured the Grade 3 Durham Cup; Bridgetown has recorded a pair of stakes victories; and Sum of the Parts was much the best when taking down the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes this summer and the recent Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.

Some of his top runners that have not been previously mentioned include 2010 Jockey Club Gold Cup star Haynesfield; three-time Grade 2 hero and sire Munnings; and French Group 2 star Lord Shanakill.

"Speightstown has really shown what a versatile stallion he is this summer, he has 19 individual stakes winners in 2012 and it doesn't matter the surface or distance, they just get it done," said Gerry Duffy, the stallions season director at WinStar Farm. "As a result he is really gaining respect in the sales ring with his 2012 yearlings averaging over four times the stud fee."

A $2 million purchase at the 1999 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Speightstown was purchased by Canadian pharmaceutical magnate Eugene Melnyk. The colt didn't show much at first asking, but returned in February of 2001 with a stylish maiden win at Gulfstream Park, showing the promise that his connections saw with his sales price. Following a pair of defeats, the Kentucky-bred chestnut ripped off a trio of swift allowance tallies in succession and concluded his campaign with a fine second in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course.

Switched back to the barn of Todd Pletcher for his four-year-old season, the colt was a nice allowance winner in his seasonal bow over reigning Breeders' Cup Classic hero Volponi and recorded a fine second in the Jaipur Handicap thereafter, but another injury forced him to the sidelines for 10 more months. That break could have been a blessing, as the then five-year-old enjoyed a banner 2004, with tallies in five of six stakes tries, concluded by a superb Breeders' Cup Sprint triumph, finishing off six furlongs in 1:08 flat.

Speightstown has made a steady climb in the stallion standings since going to stud duty in 2005 at WinStar Farm, ascending from #32 (2009) to #10 (2010) to #8 (2011), and he now sits at #3 on the sire's list for earnings for 2012. The stud will surely be well represented at this year's Breeders' Cup. Below is a list of the potential runners and their likely races for the World Championships November 2 and 3:

Horse   BC Race
Golden Ticket   Classic
Jersey Town   Dirt Mile
Bridgetown   Turf Sprint
Poseidon's Warrior   Sprint
Sum of the Parts   Sprint or Turf Sprint
Munnings Sister   Filly and Mare Sprint
Weekend Hideaway   Juvenile Sprint

Speightstown stands at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Kentucky, for a fee of $50,000.

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