Most of the pre-race attention of the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (G3) centered on a pair of promising Chad Brown-trained youngsters in Request and Pleuven (Fr). But in the end, the word was out on Mr Speaker. The Phipps Stable homebred was on his toes in the post parade and took advantage of a rail run to record his first stakes victory for conditioner Shug McGaughey.
Unhurried early as Bon Accord showed the way, Mr Speaker skimmed the fence down the backstretch and looked full of run through the far turn. The 10-1 shot waited for the pacesetter to drift out just enough and knifed through willingly en route to a 2 3/4-length victory. Cabo Cat was second, while Pleuven, last of all early, finished up well to complete the trifecta.
“[Jockey] Jose [Lezcano] rode him really well, getting him into position on the backside,” McGaughey remarked about the Pulpit colt. “I think his future is in front of him. I thought he would break good; I thought he might be a little closer than he was. He had been training well and he ran well.”
A troubled sixth behind the highly regarded Bobby's Kitten in his August 24 unveiling at Saratoga, Mr Speaker had the lead at the stretch call in a September 21st maiden at Belmont, but was outfinished by Request. The third time proved to be the charm as the dark bay colt rolled along on the front end at Belmont on October 14.
“His first two races were better than they looked,” McGaughey offered. “When I ran him at Saratoga, Javier [Castellano] 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 [next time] and he probably moved a little bit early on him against Request; he might have been best that day. Then he came back and broke his maiden—everyone took back and he just found himself on the lead. I think he can be wherever he wants.
When asked if he had any anxious moments during the running of the Dania Beach, McGaughey quipped, “I'd rather get stopped on the rail than go wide.”
Lezcano said, “As soon as the hole opened up, he shot right through. He showed me a lot.”
Mr Speaker is a son of the Unbridled mare Salute, who hit the board in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) and Tempted Stakes (G3) as a juvenile herself in 2004. She is a daughter of the peerless Personal Ensign, unbeaten in 13 career starts for McGaughey and the dam of three Grade 1 winners. The main track will likely beckon Mr Speaker in the near future.
“Yes, I will try him on the dirt, maybe even next time,” McGaughey said. “He's matured a lot since he left Belmont in November and I hope he continues to go that way.”
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