Bloodlines: Lexitonian The Latest Long-Term Dividend For Speightstown

When leading sire Tapit doesn’t have a major performer in a graded stakes, he is figuring as the broodmare sire of a major performer in a graded stakes. Or, the great gray son of Pulpit sometimes has both.

On July 31 at Saratoga, for instance, last year’s champion juvenile colt and this year’s Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality (by Tapit) won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy as his prep for the G1 Travers, and on the same card, Lexitonian (Speightstown) won the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and is out of the Tapit mare Riviera Romper.

A winner at two, Riviera Romper was bred and raced by My Meadowview Farm, then sold to Calumet Farm for $310,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale when carrying Lexitonian.

The Vanderbilt winner is the mare’s first foal and only winner from three other named foals of racing age, including the 2-year-old Miss Raison (Raison d’Etat). The latter split the field of nine at Arlington Park on her debut in a maiden special on July 17. Riviera Romper has a yearling colt by 2015 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice (Curlin) and a foal of 2021 who is a full sister to Lexitonian.

Their sire Speightstown is the last remaining important son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Gone West still at stud, and among all the good sons of Gone West, only Juddmonte’s classic-winning Zafonic would be a competitor with Speightstown to rank as the very best of them.

It has not always been this way.

As a yearling, Speightstown was a beauty, and well I remember his presence and charisma from the 1999 Keeneland July sale, when Speightstown was such a sensation that the gleaming chestnut brought $2 million from Eugene Melnyk out of the Taylor Made Sales consignment.

The great-looking yearling developed into one of the quickest juveniles for trainer Todd Pletcher, then started as the favorite for his debut at Saratoga in August 2000. And Speightstown finished dead last of 13, having “raced greenly and tired.”

The horse returned almost six months later and won a maiden special at Gulfstream, then lost an allowance but jumped into graded stakes for the G3 Gotham and finished seventh. For trainer Phil England, Speightstown won three straight allowances at Woodbine, then went to Saratoga for the G2 Amsterdam. There, Speightstown and favored City Zip flamed broiled each other, with Speightstown getting the calls for the quarter in :21.69 and the half in :44.86. City Zip had his head in front at the stretch call and pulled away slightly to win by a length, but it had taken the two front runners :26.17 to finish the final quarter-mile.

Speightstown didn’t race again in 2001. Nor did he race in 2002. Twenty-one months and six days after the Amsterdam, Speightstown returned to racing at Belmont Park and won a seven-furlong allowance by a neck. The second horse was Volponi, whose previous start had been a victory in the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Arlington.

The colt’s next start was the Jaipur Stakes at Belmont and resulted in another head and head battle, this time with the very fast Holy Bull son Garnered, who won by 1 ¼ lengths. It was nearly a replay of the Amsterdam, and after a quarter in :21.64 and a half in :43.91, the two leaders took :39.58 to cover the final three furlongs.

After the Jaipur, Speightstown didn’t race for 10 months and a day. For many an owner, this would have been too much. A $2 million-dollar colt who had made 10 starts in four seasons of racing and who had shown a very high level of speed but had trouble staying healthy seems like a proposition that many would have bailed on.

When Pletcher brought the striking chestnut back to the races in 2004 at age six, however, Speightstown showed that he was worth the wait. The horse swept victoriously through his first four starts – the Artax, G2 Churchill Downs Handicap, G2 True North Handicap, and G2 Vanderbilt Handicap – and in the latter was the odds-on favorite and set a new track record of 1:08.04.

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Upset as the odds-on favorite in the G1 Vosburgh, Speightstown came back in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park in Texas on Oct. 30, 2004. The horse rated in fourth as Abbondanza and Cuvee slugged out the early furlongs, then came on in the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:08.11.

That G1 victory put the seal on a championship season for Speightstown, who entered stud the following year, and with the combined might of WinStar and Taylor Made farms behind him, Speightstown has risen to uncommon heights. The stallion’s first crop contained 15 stakes winners, including Reynaldothewizard (G1 Golden Shaheen), Haynesfield (G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup), Lord Shanakill (G1 Prix Jean Prat), Jersey Town (G1 Cigar Mile), and Mona de Momma (G1 Distaff Stakes).

Despite being a horse of high speed, Speightstown prospered with maturity, and many of his best offspring likewise have shown improved form as they matured. That has not always made him the most popular commercial horse, but his stock have the speed if owners have the time. To date, Speightstown has 121 stakes winners (10 percent to foals of racing age).

The stallion’s most successful son at stud to date is Munnings, a G2 winner from that illustrious first crop, and Calumet’s latest G1 winner will doubtless be given opportunities at stud, both by his breeder and by commercial breeders who appreciate speed and pedigree.

The post Bloodlines: Lexitonian The Latest Long-Term Dividend For Speightstown appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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