Mr Speaker Skims to Dania Beach Surprise
by Claire Novak
Date Posted: 12/21/2013 7:20:09 PM
Last Updated: 12/22/2013 12:22:35 PM

Mr Speaker streaks home to win the Dania Beach Stakes.
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Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Phipps Stable's Mr Speaker found a rail seam in upper stretch and skimmed to a 10-1 surprise in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) Dec. 21 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).

Mr Speaker earned his first graded victory directly off an Oct. 14 maiden win at Belmont Park.

The homebred Pulpit colt was taken back after a good break from post 7 in a field of nine juveniles, and raced ahead of only one, trailer Pleuven, through the early going of the one-mile turf event.

Bon Accord showed the way into the stretch after being hustled to the front, getting the opening quarter in :23.64. Mr Speaker moved up to sixth behind a half in :47.57, however, and put himself into the mix with a strong mid-race move when Lezcano dropped him to the inside and powered his way up behind the leading vanguard. Those forwardly placed included mutliple stakes winner Yes I'm Lucky, who appeared to have a shot as the field turned for home after three-quarters in 1:11.60.

But Lezcano was sitting on a ton of horse inside, and when a gap opened as they straightened away for seven-eighths in 1:24.27, Mr Speaker accelerated clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths. The Shug McGaughey-trained colt was the only runner in the field not on Lasix. He completed the distance in 1:36.60 on a firm course.

"He showed me a lot of class down the stretch," Lezcano said. "I think he'll get better with maturity, too. We had a good trip. He broke good and was relaxed down the backside. I let him pick it up a little down the backstretch and he got me inside. As soon as the hole opened up he shot right through."

The victory marked a change of tactics for Mr Speaker, who won in October with a wire-to-wire run.

"It didn't bother me that he wasn't on the lead today," McGaughey said. "Jose rode him really good, getting him into position on the backside. I thought he would break good; I thought he might be a little closer than he was. I think he can be wherever he wants."

The colt had not raced since breaking his maiden by the same margin going 1 1/16 miles on the Belmont lawn. That victory came after a third at Belmont in September and a sixth first time out at Saratoga Race Course.

"His first two races were better than they looked," McGaughey said. "When I ran him at Saratoga, Javier rode him and missed the hole, but came back and told me that he liked him a lot. A bug boy (Manuel Franco) rode him after that, probably moved a little bit early on him against Request; he might have been best that day. We were what, 10-1 today and Request was 2-1? Then (when) he came back and broke his maiden, everyone took back and he just found himself on the lead."

McGaughey suggested a potential surface switch in the Holy bull Stakes (gr. III) for Mr Speaker, whose four starts have all come on the lawn.

"Yes, I will try him on the dirt, maybe even next time," the trainer said. "He's matured a lot since he left Belmont sometime in November and I hope he continues to go that way."

Mr Speaker returned $23.40, $12.40, and $9.20 while late-closing Cabo Cat brought $28 and $11 at odds of 35-1. Pleuven paid $4.40 while making his U.S. debut for trainer Chad Brown. Yes I'm Lucky, Imaginethatmom, Here's Johnny, Hesinfront, Bon Accord, and 5-2 choice Request completed the order of finish. 

Bred in Kentucky out of the Unbridled mare Salute, Mr Speaker now has two wins and a third from four starts, with earnings of $119,880.


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