TORONTO, November 13, 2021 – Lady Speightspeare kept her perfect record intact after another impressive performance, this time in the Grade 2 $175,350 Bessarabian Stakes, Saturday at Woodbine.
Our Secret Agent, the 7-5 choice, struck front at the outset of the seven-furlong main track race for fillies & mares, three-year-olds and upward, taking the eight-horse field (Spun Glass was scratched) through an opening quarter-mile in :23.47, as Emma-Jayne Wilson and Lady Speightspeare watched the proceedings from a half-length back in second.
It was status quo up front through a half timed in :45.65, as Our Secret Agent extended her lead to 1 ½-lengths over Lady Speightspeare.
As the field made its way into the turn for home, Wilson gave Lady Speightspeare her cue and the daughter of Speightstown responded with a brilliant burst of speed to seize the lead and hold a 1 ½-length advantage at the stretch call.
The three-year-old Kentucky-bred then powered away from her foes to the tune of a four-length score in a time of 1.21.03, as Wilson delivered a series of pats to the filly just past the wire. Our Secret Agent held for second, one-length clear of La Libertee.
Bred and owned Charles Fipke, the Roger Attfield trainee added a second graded stakes victory to her résumé. Last September at Woodbine, Lady Speightspeare took the Grade 1 Natalma.
The Bessarabian win was even sweeter for her connections after Lady Speightspeare was scratched at the gate in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on October 16.
“I'd love to say that I was the engineer, but there were so many cogs to this wheel,” said Wilson. “There were so many people involved in getting this filly to the winner’s circle today. She was fractious in the gate at Keenland, we all know that. Roger's plan, and his tutelage, he's one of the best. He zoned-in on her and in combination between the gallop crew and the gate crew, and everybody at the barn just getting her into the right frame of mind, she was on her “A” game today. It's truly a team effort. I get to ride around out there, but I mean, she's pretty spiffy. I think anybody can get her around there.”
Sent off at 5-1, Lady Speightspeare, now four-for-four lifetime, paid $12.90 for the win.
“I’m pretty relieved to be honest with you,” offered Attfield. “She’s very special. When we went to Keenland, and what happened there in the Queen Elizabeth, was so upsetting because she was so good and I really, really, liked doing that race. It was an important race, a Grade One race. I got her back here and we had lots of options of different places to go. Emma's been great and it all came together. But the race itself, I wasn't really sure how well she'd handle the synthetic. She held it okay. We always thought that she was quite a bit better on the turf, I still think she is. But the main thing was to get this gate thing sorted out and it seemed like we did today.”
Attfield trained Lady Speightspeare’s dam, Lady Shakespeare, who won the Grade 2 New York Stakes in 2010 for Fipke and was fourth in the 2009 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup.
In other stakes action, Skygaze, under Patrick Husbands, took the Grade 3 $153,800 Maple Leaf Stakes.
Trained by Mark Casse for owner Tracy Farmer, the four-year-old daughter of American Pharoah was full of run down the lane to notch her sixth career score and first graded-stakes crown in the 1 ¼-mile Tapeta test for fillies & mares, three-year-olds and upward.
Settled into third early by Husbands, the Kentucky-bred, sent off as the slight 3-1 choice, hugged the rail as Broadway Lady, another Casse trainee, led the field through early splits of :24.93 and :50.57.
As the field made the turn for home, Skygaze, under a perfect trip from Husbands, easily took command and then proceeded to dash away from her rivals down the lane, crossing the line a 4 ½-length winner in a time of 2:03.65. Sister Otoole was second and Merveilleux was third.
“I was driving my Ferrari,” said Husbands, who rode his 3,500th North American winner on Friday at Woodbine. “She gives you everything she has to give you.”
Bred by Normandy Farm LLC, Skygaze, who won the Belle Mahone Stakes on September 12, paid $8.30 for today’s win.
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