Speak Easy Sharp Debut Winner on Pegasus World Cup Undercard
3YO Son of Constitution Stalks & Defeats Favored Victory Avenue
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s 3-year-old debut runner Speak Easy pressed favored Victory Avenue into the far turn, wrested a short lead once straightened for home and pulled clear to win Saturday’s second race on Pegasus World Cup day at Gulfstream Park.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, Speak Easy ($18.60) completed seven furlongs over a fast main track in a sharp 1:21.96 to win the maiden special weight for 3-year-olds by 1 ¾ lengths over Victory Avenue.
“It kind of looked on paper as a loaded race,” Pletcher said of the same event from last year’s Pegasus program that produced eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage. Victory Avenue is co-owned by OGMA Investments and trained by Gustavo Delgado, who also campaigned Mage.
Victory Avenue lugged in after breaking from Post 5 in a field of 11 and jockey Luis Saez had to grab hold of the Arrogate colt before getting him settled and hustling to the front with Speak Easy, who drew the rail, on his right hip forcing a pace that went 22.64 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.61 for the half.
Ortiz and Speak Easy moved up on even terms with Victory Avenue midway around the far turn and the two hit the top of the stretch together before Speak Easy began to edge clear inside the eighth pole. Victory Avenue, purchased for $375,000 as a 2-year-old in training last May, was 3 ¾ lengths clear of Big City, 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Corporate Power fourth with Tapakena fifth.
Speak Easy, out of the Harlan’s Holiday mare Fun, had eight timed works since mid-November at Palm Beach Downs for his debut, including a four-furlong bullet move in 47.97 seconds Jan. 13 and a maintenance half in 49.09 Jan. 20, both from the gate.
“This colt had been training very well. Like always, a little concerned when you draw the one-hole going seven-eighths, but he was able to work out a really good trip,” Pletcher said. “He broke alertly and was able to move outside the favorite. They were rolling right along. I don’t know how fast the track is today, but 1:21 and four is a pretty good debut time no matter how the track is playing.”
Also bred by WinStar, Speak Easy is a son of Constitution, who similarly broke his maiden first time out as a 3-year-old at Gulfstream before going on to win the 2014 Florida Derby (G1) and 2015 Donn Handicap (G1), precursor to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat.