Speightstown Rolls To Win In True North Handicap

John Velazquez was on some speedballs Saturday at Belmont. A race after he guided Bear Fan to a track record going 6 1/2 furlongs, he took Speightstown on a tour-de-force at six furlongs.

Speightstown won the $210,830 True North Breeders' Cup (gr. II) by 1 1/2 lengths while going six furlongs in 1:08.04. Bear Fan went the previous race in 1:14.46.

The fractions in the True North, as you would expect, were quick. Speightstown let Cat Genius take the lead, but he went by him easy down the backstretch after an opening quarter mile in :21.58. He covered the a half in :43.72 and five furlongs in a very fast :55.35.

"The other horses tried to reach him and all I had to do was keep him running," Velazquez said. "The only other thing I had to do was steer him clear of traffic and let him run his race. He was awesome."

Speightstown is very sharp right now, having won all three of his starts this year easily, the first two at seven furlongs, for trainer Todd Pletcher. He won an allowance race at Gulfstream on March 27 and then on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 1, won the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II).

"The thing that impressed me most was that he broke so sharp and was in that :21 2/5 duel and then took back and went outside," Pletcher said. "It's hard to make multiple moves like that in a sprint. I thought he was as impressive as could be.

"We were a little concerned turning back from seven furlongs, but this was arguably his best race. He's just gotten good. Everything has finally gelled with him. He's always been a talented horse, but unfortunately, nagging injuries have gotten in the way of him showing his best.

By Gone West out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat, Speightstown was bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones. He races for Eugene and Laura Melnyk and is trained by Todd Pletcher.

The 6-year-old horse has won eight of 13 lifetime starts and has earnings now of $537,056.

Speightstown paid $5.60, $3.70, and $2.60. Cat Genius returned $6.60 and $3.60. Pohave was third most of the way and held that position, paying $2.90.

Sing Me Back Home, Canadian Frontier, First Blush, Maybry's Boy, Buzzy's Gold and Key Deputy followed.

(Chart, Equibase)