Speightstown goes out like a champ
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- There were two surprises concerning Speightstown in the $1,060,000 Breeders' Cup Sprint: He was not the favorite and he did not break. Despite breaking a bit slowly from post 2, Speightstown was a dominant 1 1/4-length winner in the six-furlong BC Sprint at Lone Star Park and, in the process, became a millionaire and turned up the heat on Pico Central in the battle for champion sprinter.
Kela rallied from 10th to finish second in the Sprint, three-quarters of a length in front of 60-1 shot My Cousin Matt. Midas Eyes, who was a slight favorite over Speightstown, was hung wide from post 13 and finished 10th.
Speightstown ($9.40) recovered quickly after the start and within a few strides had moved up into the race. Abbondanza, meanwhile, found himself up by a half-length after an opening quarter in 21.23 seconds, and continued to lead the field through a half-mile in 43.47 seconds. Speightstown held his ground along the rail, then got through along the inside in the stretch and accelerated, covering six furlongs in 1:08.11.
"He didn't break as well as I wanted to, but I kicked him out of there just to get a good position," said John Velazquez, who rode Speightstown. "I had to take the advantage from the inside. He wasn't taking that much dirt and the hole was there. When it opened up, from then on it was all him."
Speightstown came into the Sprint following a third-place finish to Pico Central in the Grade 1 Vosburgh. He broke sharply in that race but bobbled badly and did not get his footing well over the track, which was cuppy, said Pletcher.
"He didn't break as well today as I thought he normally would, but he wasn't struggling to get his feet up under him right away after the slow break," said Pletcher. "He just rushed right up into the race fine. The difference was he broke sharply in the Vosburgh, but he just couldn't get the track and stay there."
Before the Vosburgh, Speighstown had reeled off four straight stakes wins: the $100,000 Artax, the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap, the Grade 2 True North, and the Grade 2 Vanderbilt.
He earned $551,200 in the final start of his career Saturday, giving him a record of 10 wins from 16 starts and earnings of $1,258,256. Speightstown will enter stud at WinStar in Kentucky.
Kela, the third choice in the wagering, raced in 10th early and closed from seventh to second in the final furlong. "I had to come extremely wide," said Jerry Bailey, who rode Kela. "I was warned that he would not run well into the dirt, to get him clear if I could. You lose a lot of ground, but that's where he does his best running."
Bwana Charlie was fourth at 35-1 to complete a $42,365 superfecta. The remaining order of finish was: Cajun Beat, Clock Stopper, Champali, Pt's Grey Eagle, Gold Storm, Midas Eyes, Abbondanza, Our New Recruit, and Cuvee.