As fast as the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack may have been for the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) card, Godolphin’s Speaker’s Corner made it look even faster.
The speedy homebred son of Street Sense toyed with his six rivals in the $300,000 Carter Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets (G1), vying for the early lead and then pulling away in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths in the kind of top-level performance that justified running him in one-turn races.
“He’s run three races back-to-back that were pretty good,” trainer Bill Mott said. “It took a while get him going I suppose, but it looks like he’s found his groove in these one-turn races. He’s very fast.”
Speaker’s Corner, out of the Bernardini mare Tyburn Brook , was certainly fast Saturday as he led by a length through a half-mile in :46:11 and then widened to a four-length margin in 1:09.40 at the eighth pole before crossing the wire ahead of Reinvestment Risk in 1:21.34 for the seven furlongs.
“We thought he was talented at 2 and we had to give him some time off. It turned out we had to give him more time off than we thought (10 months), but right now it looks like it’s turned out well,” Mott said.
After finishing sixth as the 7-2 second choice in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) while making his stakes debut and second in the Discovery Stakes around two turns last year, a cutback to a one-turn distance has proved to be the key to securing a coveted a top-level victory for the talented 4-year-old.
“A grade 1 win was the goal for him,” Mott said.
The connections of Speaker’s Corner enjoy the trophy presentation for the Carter Handicap
Prior to the Carter, Speaker’s Corner gave off some rather loud hints of what was to come Saturday when he reeled off successive wins at Gulfstream Park in the Fred Hooper Stakes Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa (G3) and, most recently, by 5 1/2 lengths in the WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes (G2).
“He is a horse who we have always been very high on. We figured out what he wants to do. He’s a very good miler,” jockey Junior Alvarado said. “Today, we had a great trip, and he was there the whole way around. He was very much the best horse. He took the lead around the half-mile pole and after that, he was just doing his thing. He ran them off their feet early. He was traveling comfortably and was faster than the other horses. He gave me the same kick at seven-eighths as a mile. He’s on his ‘A’ game right now. He’ll be a tough horse this year.”
A winner of 6 of 9 starts with earnings of $572,130, Speaker’s Corner is the first of four foals and first stakes winner for Tyburn Brook, who also has a 2-year-old Maclean’s Music colt and a yearling Nyquist colt.
Sent off as a 3-5 favorite ($3.50), Speaker’s Corner carried highweight of 124 pounds.
Klaravich Stables’ Reinvestment Risk was a clear second while making just his second start since June for trainer Chad Brown.
“I thought I was second-best today. My horse ran really well. I just tried to find my spot there inside. I was in the right spot the whole way around. I was happy with the way he ran. He’s really nice. The winner is in his prime right now, but I think my horse will improve after this race,” jockey Manny Franco said.
The 4-year-old son of Upstart , who was sent off at 6-1 odds, now has three second-place finishes in grade 1 races to his credit after checking in second in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) at 2.
He was 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ Mind Control , a multiple grade 1-winning 6-year-old son of Stay Thirsty running for the first time since September for trainer Todd Pletcher. The 4-1 second choice, he carried 123 pounds.
Mott said the June 11 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1), a one-turn mile, would be the next stop for Speaker’s Corner.
“You have to put that down on the list as a prime target,” Mott said.