Following four straight runner-ups -- including a pair of graded stakes tries at Santa Anita Park, Eclipse Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables Speech shipped east and earned a breakthrough victory when surging past odds-on favorite Venetian Harbor in the stretch to win the Grade 1, $400,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Race Course.
Reunited with Javier Castellano, Speech stalked the pace in second as Venetian Harbor took the field through moderate opening fractions of :24.04 and :47.14 for the 1 1/16-miles. Speech ranged up to be on even terms with Venetian Harbor at the quarter pole and then spurted clear of that rival down the lane to win by open lengths. Venetian Harbor held second and was followed across the wire by Envoutante and Bonny South.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Speech-- who was scratched from Friday's seven-furlong Beaumont (G3) -- completed the trip in 1:41.21 to set a new stakes and track record. She paid $10.00 and earned 100 points towards the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks.
"We had our mind set on running in the Beaumont Stakes for the last five weeks or so and the last minute, we kind of called an audible and sometimes these things work out," McCarthy said. "To come back today and think we would set a track record in a race we weren’t especially pointing to says something about Speech. She trained well. She shows up every time. I call her the ultimate overachiever.”
WATCH the full replay as SPEECH prevails in the @centralbankKY Ashland (G1) at #Keeneland! Congratulations to all connected, jockey @jjcjockey, trained by Michael McCarthy and set a new stakes & course record! pic.twitter.com/4vY4DdY2lB— Keeneland Racing (@keenelandracing) July 11, 2020
Speech, who improves her record to 7: 2-4-1, was second in Santa Anita's Santa Ysabel (G3) behind Donna Veloce in March and most recently was second, beaten four lengths, by star Swiss Skydiver in the June 6 Santa Anita Oaks (G2). Sandwiched between those starts, Speech was beaten a neck by Gamine in an allowance/optional claiming heat at Santa Anita.
By Mr. Speaker, Speech was a $190,000 auction purchase at last year's OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale.