Speightstown (horse)

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Speightstown at Winstar Farms.jpg
Speightstown at WinStar Farm
SireGone West
GrandsireMr. Prospector
DamSilken Cat
DamsireStorm Cat
FoaledFebruary 1, 1998
CountryUnited States
BreederAaron & Marie Jones
OwnerEugene and Laura Melnyk
TrainerTodd Pletcher
Record16: 10–2–2
Major wins
Churchill Downs Handicap
True North Breeders' Cup Handicap
Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap Breeder's Cup wins:
Breeders' Cup Sprint (2004)
Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter (2004)

Speightstown (foaled February 1, 1998, in Kentucky) is an American Thoroughbred racehorse who won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Sprint and was named that year's Champion sprinter. He also tied the track record for six furlongs at Saratoga race course. He has since become one of North America's leading sires.


Speightstown is a chestnut horse with a white star and a white sock on the left hind leg. He was bred by Aaron and Marie Jones.[1] His sire is Gone West, an outstanding miler and one of Mr. Prospector's best sire sons.[2] Speightstown was the first foal out of Silken Cat, who won the Sovereign Award for Canadian champion 2-year-old in 1995. Silken Cat was from a good female family that includes stakes winners on both turf and dirt.[3] Her line traces to Meadow Stable's great broodmare Hildene, dam of champions Hill Prince and First Landing.[4] Silken Cat died in 2016, having produced ten foals,[5] seven of which were sold at auction for a combined $8.7 million.[6]

As a yearling, Speightstown was an outstanding physical specimen: compact and muscular with correct conformation.[4] He sold at the 1999 Keeneland July Sale for $2 million to Eugene Melnyk.[4] In July 2004, Taylor Made and WinStar Farm purchased an interest.[7]

Speightstown was trained by Todd Pletcher.[1]

Racing career[edit]

Nagging injuries kept Speightstown from showing his full ability until he was six.[8][9] He made only one start as a two-year-old,[1] a six-furlong maiden race at Saratoga on August 26, 2000. He finished last, beaten by 15 lengths, having raced greenly and tired.[10]

On February 3, 2001 at Gulfstream Park, Speightstown, now age 3, broke his maiden by 6+34 lengths.[11] Next time out on February 24, he settled into third place down the backstretch and was unable to improve his position in the stretch.[12] On March 18, Speightstown tried stakes company for the first time in the 1 mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. He showed early speed but faded badly, beaten by 24+34 lengths.[13]

Speightstown was shipped to Woodbine racetrack in Toronto, Ontario for his next start on April 8, cutting back in distance to 7 furlongs. This time he stalked the pace from the outside and took charge entering the stretch, drawing off to win by 8 lengths.[14] He followed this with two more wins in allowance races at Woodbine in June. He then shipped to Saratoga for the Grade II Amsterdam Stakes on August 21, 2001 against heavily favored City Zip. The two dueled for the lead around the track and exchanged bumps on the turn. Speightstown was game but City Zip prevailed by a length.[15]

Speightstown injured a knee in the Amsterdam[4] and was unable to race for nearly two years. He returned to the track on May 9, 2003 in an allowance race at Belmont Park. He contested the pace with Harmony Hall, who eventually faded, but then Volponi, the previous year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner, closed rapidly and pulled ahead in mid-stretch. Speightstown fought back and eventually won by a neck.[16] In his next start on May 26 in the Jaipur Handicap, Speightstown was made the high weight, conceding 5 pounds to the favorite, Garnered. The two dueled around the track before Garnered finally pulled away, winning by 1+12 lengths.[17]

2004: Six-year-old campaign[edit]

Speightstown missed the next 10 months, finally returning at age 6 in the Artax Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 27, 2004. In what would be his first stakes win, Speightstown withstood an early duel for the lead and drew away in the stretch to win by 4+12 lengths.[18] He followed up in the Churchill Downs Handicap on May 1, where he went wire-to-wire against favoured Congaree to win by 3+12.[19]

His next start was in the True North Handicap at Belmont on June 5. Speightstown let Cat Genius take the lead, but went by on the backstretch after an opening quarter mile in :21.58. He covered the half in :43.72, five furlongs in a very fast :55.35, and finished the six furlongs in 1:08.04. "The other horses tried to reach him and all I had to do was keep him running", his jockey John 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."[9]

His next start was the $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 13 at Saratoga, where he carried the top weight of 120 pounds. He dueled with Mike's Classic through swift fractions of :22 for the first quarter and :44 2/5 for the half. Speightstown finally took command in the final furlong and won by 1+12 lengths in a time of 1:08.04 for the six furlongs. This tied the track mark set by Spanish Riddle in 1972 while breaking the stakes record of 1:08 1/5 established by Five Star Day in 2000.[20] These records still stand as of 2016.[21] He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 117 for the race, the highest number earned by a sprinter in 2004.[22]

On October 2, Speightstown returned to Belmont Park as the favorite for the Vosburgh Stakes. He stumbled at the start, then went to the lead but could not sustain his normal pace and faded to third behind Pico Central.[23] "The track was cupping away from him", Pletcher said later. "He is normally an exceptionally quick gate horse and a good gate horse. He just couldn't get his feet underneath him." Pico Central was now considered to be the leader in the sprint division, taking into account two earlier Grade 1 wins. But he had not been nominated as a foal to the Breeders' Cup so his connections opted to bypass the Sprint for the Cigar Mile, in which he would finish third.[24]

With the title of champion sprinter at stake, Speightstown traveled to Texas where the Breeders' Cup was being held at Lone Star Park. Even with Pico Central's absence, the field of 13 for the Breeders' Cup Sprint was top notch, including the defending winner, Cajun Beat, Kela, who had beaten Pico Central earlier in the year, and Midas Eyes, the narrow favorite off a win in the Forego Stakes.[22] Speightstown broke poorly but then established good position on the rail. Abbondanza took the early lead and ran a very fast opening quarter of :21.23, while the opening half went in :43.47. As the field entered the stretch, Speightstown took advantage of a small hole and went to the front, along with Gold Storm on the outside. The two briefly dueled before Speightstown pulled away, finishing the six furlongs in 1:08.11. The late-running Kela closed from the far outside to finish second. "He didn't break as well as I wanted to, but I took a little bit of a hold to get a good position", said Velazquez. "I had to take advantage of the inside. I had to take advantage when the hole was there."[25]

In the voting for the Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter, Speightstown beat Pico Central by 157 votes to 101. Speightstown's win in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on racing's biggest day was likely decisive. Said Pletcher, "I have the utmost respect for Pico Central. But both horses had blemishes on their records. The thing is, I never felt like the Vosburgh was a fair indication of what our horse was all about. He stumbled coming out of there, and the track was not what we expected it to be. It was deep, cuppy, tiring. And, taking nothing away from Voodoo, but when Voodoo [a rank outsider] beat us, we felt our horse just didn't run his race. We threw that race out, regrouped, went on to the Breeders' Cup at a neutral and fair track, and won what we consider to be the biggest sprint race of the year."[26]

Racing statistics[edit]

Date Age Distance Race Grade Track Odds Field Finish Winning time Winning
Aug 26, 2000 2 6 furlongs Maiden Special Weight Saratoga 2.60 13 13 1:11.46 (15) lengths [10]
Feb 3, 2001 3 6 furlongs Maiden Special Weight Gulfstream 13.50 10 1 1:10.11 6+34 lengths [11]
Feb 24, 2001 3 6 furlongs Allowance Gulfstream 0.70 8 3 1:10.62 (5) lengths [12]
Mar 18, 2001 3 1 mile Gotham Stakes III Aqueduct 15.10 8 7 1:35.14 (24+34) lengths [13]
Apr 8, 2001 3 7 furlongs Allowance Woodbine 0.70 8 1 1:23.61 5 lengths [14]
Jun 3, 2001 3 6 furlongs Allowance Optional Claiming Woodbine 0.55 7 1 1:09.95 2+12 lengths [27]
Jun 24, 2001 3 7 furlongs Allowance Woodbine 1.25 7 1 1:22.08 2 lengths [28]
Aug 3, 2001 3 6 furlongs Amsterdam Stakes II Saratoga 5.40 6 2 1:11.03 (1) length [15]
May 9, 2003 5 7 furlongs Allowance Belmont 4.70 6 1 1:22.89 neck [16]
May 26, 2003 5 7 furlongs Jaipur Handicap Listed Belmont 2.05 5 2 1:23.49 (1+14) lengths [17]
Mar 27, 2004 6 7 furlongs Artax Handicap Listed Gulfstream 3.20 9 1 1:22.89 4+12 lengths [18]
May 1, 2004 6 7 furlongs Churchill Downs Handicap II Churchill Downs 5.40 7 1 1:21.38 3+12 lengths [19]
Jun 5, 2004 6 6 furlongs True North Breeders' Cup Handicap II Belmont 1.80 9 1 1:08.04 1+12 lengths [29]
Aug 14, 2004 6 6 furlongs Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap II Saratoga 0.90 6 1 1:08.04 1+12 lengths [30]
Oct 2, 2004 6 6 furlongs Vosburgh Stakes I Belmont 0.80 5 3 1:09.74 (4+12) lengths [31]
Oct 30, 2004 6 6 furlongs Breeders' Cup Sprint I Lone Star Park 3.70 13 1 1:08.11 1+14 lengths [32]

Stud career[edit]

Speightstown was retired to stud at WinStar Farms in 2005 for an initial fee of $40,000.[2] The crop of stallions that began their stud career in 2005 was a very good one, also including Tapit, Medaglia d'Oro, and Candy Ride.[33] Speightstown has held his own, ranking among the top five stallions in his siring crop every season.[34]

Speightstown has proven more versatile as a sire than his race record would suggest. Speightstown was a sprinter who was unsuccessful in his only attempt beyond 7 furlongs and who never raced on the turf. He was also slow to develop, with his championship season occurring at age six. Many of his most accomplished runners have been sprinters like him, including Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard and Essence Hit Man, Canada's champion sprinter in 2011 and 2012. However Speightstown has also sired several good longer distance runners including Travers Stakes winner Golden Ticket and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield. He has also sired some good turf runners, including Lord Shanakill and Seek Again.[3]

Darren Fox, stallion season director for WinStar, said Speightstown has been a success due to his compatibility with a wide range of mares, as well as being a good option for those looking to find an outcross for Northern Dancer-line mares.[2]

He had his best year to date in 2013, when he was the leading sire by number of stakes wins, second by both progeny earnings and stakes winners, and third by number of individual winners.[2] WinStar raised Speightstown's stud fee from $60,000 to $80,000 for 2014 as a result.[3] For 2016, his fee was further increased to $100,000.[35]

Notable offspring include:[2][3][33][34][36][37]

Stallion statistics[edit]

By Racing Year[38]
Year North
Winners Stakes
Chief earner Earnings
2008 #5 first-crop 41 5 1 Lord Shanakill $1,246,219
2009 #4 second-crop 65 9 6 Munnings $5,137,115
2010 10 105 14 5 Haynesfield $6,791,937
2011 7 141 14 2 Essence Hit Man $7,195,605
2012 3 148 20 8 Golden Ticket $9,989,690
2013 2 154 20 10 Reynaldothewizard $11,257,879
2014 9 134 16 4 Seek Again $8,511,611
2015 8 122 13 7 Force the Pass $9,883,644

Prior to 2015, the Leading Sire Lists published by The Blood-Horse excluded earnings from Hong Kong and Japan due to the disparity in purses. Starting in 2015, earnings from Hong Kong and Japan are included on an adjusted basis.[39]

Speightstown has suffered at least three bouts of colic: in December 2004,[40] April 2010[41] and November 2012.[42] He has recovered well despite requiring minor surgery.


Pedigree of Speighstown, chestnut horse, 1998[43]
Gone West
Mr. Prospector
Raise a Native Native Dancer
Raise You
Gold Digger Nashua
Secretariat Bold Ruler
Tamarett Tim Tam
Mixed Marriage
Silken Cat (CAN)
Storm Cat
Storm Bird Northern Dancer
South Ocean
Terlingua Secretariat
Crimson Saint
Silken Doll
Chieftain Bold Ruler
Insilca Buckpasser
Copper Canyon family: 9-b[44]

Speightstown is inbred 3 × 4 to Secretariat, meaning Secretariat appears once in the third generation and once in the fourth generation of his pedigree. Speightstown is also inbred 4 × 4 × 5 to Bold Ruler, and 5 × 5 to Tom Fool.


  1. ^ a b c d "Statistics – Speightstown". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Speightstown: Leading sire by stakes wins". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "Hot Sire: Speightstown". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Speightstown Fulfills His Promise". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
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  6. ^ "Silken Cat, Dam of Speightstown, Dies". Thoroughbred Daily News. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Taylor Made/WinStar Purchase Interest in Speightstown". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. ^ Sparkman, John P. "Gone (West) but not forgotten". drf.com. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Speightstown Rolls To Win In True North Handicap". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
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  11. ^ a b "Chart for February 3, 2001". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Chart for February 24, 2001". equibasecom. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Chart for the Gotham". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Chart for April 8, 2001". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Chart for the Amsterdam". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Chart of May 9, 2003". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Chart for the Jaipur". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Chart for the Artax". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Chart of the Churchill Downs Handicap". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Speightstown Stops Clock in Record Time". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Saratoga Track Records". www.nyra.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Speightstown Committed to Front". VegasInsider.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Pico Central Dusts Speightstown in Vosburgh". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  24. ^ Dickard, Leslie. "2004 Eclipse Sprinter: Speightstown". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Classy Speightstown Sizzles in Sprint". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  26. ^ Faustman, John Eastwood. "34th Annual Eclipse Awards | 2004". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  27. ^ "Chart for June 3, 2001". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  28. ^ "Chart for June 24, 2001". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  29. ^ "Chart for the True North". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Chart for the Alfred G. Vanderbilt". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  31. ^ "Chart for the Vosburgh". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  32. ^ "Chart for the Breeders' Cup Sprint". Equibase. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  33. ^ a b Porter, Alan. "Speight of Success". TrueNicks.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  34. ^ a b "Speightstown – WinStar Farm". WinStar Farm. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  35. ^ "Pioneerof the Nile's Fee More Than Doubles". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  36. ^ "Speightstown on Stallion Register Online". Stallion Register Online. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  37. ^ "Progeny Listing – Speightstown". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  38. ^ "Leading Sire Lists". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  39. ^ Mitchell, Eric. "Sire List Evolution". cs.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  40. ^ "Speightstown Fully Recovered; Bred First Mare Feb. 14". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  41. ^ "Speightstown Recovering After Colic Surgery". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  42. ^ "Speightstown Recovering From Colic Surgery 2012". BloodHorse. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  43. ^ "Pedigree on Equineline". Equineline. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  44. ^ "Speightstown Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.