McGaughey Hoping Mr Speaker Can Handle the Dirt

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Mr Speaker likely to make his main track debut in Holy Bull Stakes Mr Speaker likely to make his main track debut in Holy Bull Stakes

Mr Speaker, who made a sharp run up the rail to land the Dania Beach Stakes (G3) on the Gulfstream grass in his local bow on Dec. 21, will likely get a chance to test the main track next time in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on Jan. 25, according to trainer Shug McGaughey.

“He came out of the race really well,” McGaughey said. “I’m going to work him from the pole at Payson on the dirt. I’d like to take [jockey Jose] Lezcano up there and work him in behind a horse to see how he handles the dirt in his face. If he handles it and breezes well, I’d like to take a shot at the Holy Bull. The timing is good, and we know he can run on the grass. He’s always trained fine on the dirt, so I would think that we’d be okay.”

A homebred for the Phipps Stable, Mr Speaker is a son of Pulpit. His dam Salute, a royally bred daughter of Unbridled and Personal Ensign, hit the board in both the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) and Tempted Stakes (G3) on the Aqueduct dirt as a juvenile.

Nashua winner Cairo Prince Preps For Holy Bull
Cairo Prince had a leisurely breeze at Palm Meadows on New Year’s Eve in preparation for his 2014 bow in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on January 25. Working in tandem with stablemate Antipathy, the gunmetal gray colt was well within himself and had his ears pricked while being timed in :51.90 for a half-mile. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was hoping for a slightly faster move from the colt, but pointed out that Cairo Prince put up a :47.60 drill last week.

Nashua winner Cairo Prince

Nashua winner Cairo Prince

“I was a little disappointed, he went too slow,” McLaughlin said. “He breezes in company most of the time, but last week he went 47 and 2/5 [seconds] and was out in a minute. Maybe it was rider error or company error, but we have plenty of time to catch up. We’ll put him with different company next week and probably back it up to Sunday or Monday because he went so slow.

“He’s fine and we have time to correct it,” McLaughlin added. “He usually does work pretty well, but he’s the type that if you don’t put him in company, he’ll go in 53 [seconds] or 46. So if he goes in company, they usually get it right. It was unfortunate, but it’s no big deal. He’s a sound and happy horse.”

Cairo Prince captured the Nashua Stakes (G2) in his second start on Nov. 3, but, after looking like the winner at the stretch call of the Remsen Stakes (G2) four weeks later, wound up second by a nose to the resurgent Honor Code.

“I’d rather not think about it,” McLaughlin quipped. “But the facts are that we gave the winner six pounds, and the jock [Luis Saez] just rode him overconfidently. He had his stick down and went by him and thought he had it won. It was unfortunate, but as of now, Saez will ride him in the Holy Bull.”

Cairo Prince is currently McLaughlin’s leading candidate for the Triple Crown races, and the conditioner also has the promising filly Penwith ready to gear up her sophomore campaign. A homebred for Darley, the daughter of Bernardini broke her maiden over a highly regarded field in her second start on Oct. 27, and completed her 2013 season in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) on Nov. 30. The bay filly set the pace in that nine-furlong test before getting caught late and wound up third, beaten just a neck by winner Stopchargingmaria.

Penwith is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in Thursday’s second race at Gulfstream, a first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies. Luis Saez will be in the irons. She is out of Composure, a multiple Grade I winner that Darley acquired for $3.6 million at the conclusion of her racing career.

“She’s a very nice filly,” McLaughlin said. “We see her as an Oaks filly. She just got beat in the Demoiselle. She’s turning back here to a mile, but that’s the race that was there. She should be tough in there. She drew seven of seven, and that’s a good post for a change.”

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  • Don Reed

    What a nice twist, the laconic Shug training a horse named Mr. Speaker.

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