Video courtesy of Keeneland
Mr Speaker absolutely overwhelmed the opposition in the stretch on Saturday in the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland Race Course.
The Lexington Stakes was the last scoring race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system that determines the 20-horse field for the first jewel of the Triple Crown, but Mr Speaker’s Hall of Fame trainer, Shug McGaughey, said racing fans should not expect to see him in the Derby starting gate on May 3.
Based upon Mr Speaker’s dominant Lexington Stakes victory, however, it seems reasonable to expect to see this talented colt in quite a few other big races for 3-year-olds this year.
Jockey Jose Lezcano angled Mr Speaker to the outside at the top of the stretch after a ground-saving trip and the Phipps Stable homebred accelerated powerfully to seize command in just a few strides. He steadily pulled away to win by four lengths and picked up his first win of the season and second career graded stakes victory.
MR SPEAKER CHARGES TO VICTORY IN THE LEXINGTON STAKES
Mr Speaker closed his 2-year-old season with a win on the grass in the Grade 3 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. His connections opted to test him on the main track next to see if Mr Speaker was a possible Kentucky Derby contender, but he faded late in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes and finished seventh.
In his start preceding the Lexington Stakes, Mr Speaker encountered trouble early but closed with a rush to finish second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on the grass. The Lexington Stakes win came on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland, so the big question Mr Speaker still must answer is whether he can carry the class he displayed on turf and synthetics surfaces over to the main track.
After the race, McGaughey said he did not believe the Holy Bull Stakes was indicative of Mr Speaker’s true ability on dirt and said he hopes to find another spot on dirt down the road to try again.
“This horse we’ve been high on. I brought him here with the idea of running in the [Grade 1 Toyota] Blue Grass [Stakes], but when it came up a big field I decided not to,” McGaughey said.
“I think he probably will handle the dirt. He laid up maybe a bit closer than we wanted him to [in the Holy Bull], maybe a little eager, and I don’t think [Lezcano] wanted him eating the dirt. So I think one of these days we’ll try him again, but it’s not going to be in two weeks.”
Mr Speaker completed 1 1/16 mile on the Polytrack surface in 1:44.18 for his third win in seven starts. The $120,000 winner’s hare of the Lexington purse boosted his career earnings to $269,880.
Divine Oath edged Supermonic by a head for second in the eight-horse field.
Regally bred Mr Speaker is one of two winners from as many starters produced by Grade 2-placed Salute, by Unbridled. Salute is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to multiple Grade 1 winner My Flag, the winner of the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies who also produced 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and champion Storm Flag Flying. My Flag died on April 12 because of foaling complications after delivering a healthy colt by Bernardini.
Mr Speaker’s second dam (maternal grandmother) is Personal Ensign, one of racing’s true all-time greats who retired undefeated in 13 starts and was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1993.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
LEGENDS: PERSONAL ENSIGN