Speightstown got his second new Grade 1 winner in less than a month when Shirl’s Speight roared down the stretch to win a nail-biting rendition of the $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) Friday at Keeneland.
Speightstown now has 24 lifetime Grade 1 winners, with Shirl’s Speight and Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Switzerland new additions to the list in 2022. Speightstown could add his third top-level of the year tomorrow when Lady Speightspeare goes postward in Keeneland’s Jenny Wiley S. (G1).
However, the focus Friday was on the heart-pounding finish of the Maker’s Mark Mile. Shirl’s Speight, under Luis Saez, was unhurried out of the gate and settled near the back of the eight-horse field. The pace was unusually slow, with the half-mile in :49.63 and six furlongs in 1:13.38. The field bunched up at the top of the stretch, and Shirl’s Speight was forced to go wide as he picked up momentum. Still seventh with a furlong to go, Shirl’s Speight closed with a flourish to nose out Masen (GB) on the wire.
“I decided to take him back right when we broke,” said Saez. “It looked like that was the best decision to make. In the end, he was coming. He ran pretty hard and got there in time.”
“I won this race with his grandfather (broodmare sire Perfect Soul (IRE) in 2004, and this is a better miler than he was,” added trainer Roger Attfield. “Luis gave him a great ride. He let him do that and he came down the stretch fast, didn’t he? I didn’t know whether he was going to make it.”
A two-time Grade 3 winner prior to Friday, Shirl’s Speight is now 5-0-1 in nine starts and has earned $566,665 for his owner/breeder Charles Fipke, who also campaigned Perfect Soul and Perfect Shirl, dam of Shirl’s Speight who won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Perfect Shirl has a yearling filly by More Than Ready and foaled a Speightstown filly this year.