Friday, December 13, 2013

Gulfstream News & Notes December 13

Speechify Looks to Get Back on Track
What a 'Coup' for Brown

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -- After winning his first two starts at Gulfstream Park, Speechify looked to be on his way to bigger and better things for owner Team Valor International. He will get a chance to get back on track in Saturday’s fifth race, a six-furlong optional claiming event.

The nearly black colt aired by 10 ½ lengths in his August 24 career debut and followed that with a victory in a first-level test Sept. 29. He earned Beyer Speed Figures of 89 and 86, respectively, for those sprints. However, he failed to show his customary speed next time on November 10 going a flat mile and finished a distant fourth behind Speak Logistics. That effort left trainer Ralph Nicks puzzled.

“Maybe he bounced a little bit,” Nicks offered. “It surprised me that he didn’t handle the mile well , but it is what it is. He’s doing well, he’s happy and we’re going to put him back to where he’s been successful.”

Speechify is a grandson of the fast filly Arrested Dreams, whose offspring include the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes winner Oratory. He has breezed twice since his last start, including a five-eighths move on the Gulfstream grass in 1:00 1/5.

“I worked him on the grass the other day since he’s by Harlan’s Holiday, just for kicks and giggles to see if he’d handle it, and he handled it well,” Nicks added. “He is a talented horse and those kind can handle anything, so that might be something for down the road.”

Nicks has held Speechify in high regard from the start.

“Early on I thought he might be a listed kind of horse and, hopefully, even better than that,” Nicks continued. “He’s always trained like a very talented horse. We expect to see a good effort from him [on Saturday]. He’s very sharp right now, and we’ll see what the outcome is.”

Speechify is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the fifth race. He will break from the three hole with Juan Leyva in the irons.

What a ‘Coup’

Trainer Chad Brown had his first Kentucky Derby starter last May with Fox Hill Farms’ Normandy Invasion, a son of Tapit who made a bold move at the top of the stretch en route to a fourth-place finish. Brown and Fox Hill have another Tapit colt, Coup de Grace, that could take them back to Louisville in 2014.

The chestnut colt, purchased for $300,000 as a yearling, scored as the 1-2 chalk in his career opener at Aqueduct on November 9 and earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure after covering six panels in 1:10. He will attempt a one-turn mile when he faces a maximum of nine rivals in Sunday’s sixth race at Gulfstream Park.

“I’m hoping he can build off of that debut and effectively stretch out to the mile distance, and just keep progressing like he has all fall for us,” Brown remarked. “I give all of the first-time starters the benefit of the doubt when I’m watching them. I thought he handled everything quite well overall. He seems to be training well since he’s arrived here in Florida.”

A grandson of champion older mare Jewel Princess, Coup de Grace has recorded three morning drills at Palm Meadows in the last month. He covered a half-mile in :48 1/5 last Sunday.

The juvenile opened up by daylight in his first start before digging in late to deny Unknown Road, a well-bred son of Bernardini trained by Mike Hushion, by three-quarters of a length. That lone start was enough to have him as an individual betting interest in the first Future Wager Pool for the Kentucky Derby. He opened at 50-1 in the wagering and closed at 48-1.

Brown is hopeful that Coup de Grace will build on his early promise.

“He’s by a good stallion and the owner, Mr. Rick Porter, has a history of getting horses to the Derby—live horses, with a real chance in the race,” Brown explained. “I think that, given who owns him, who he’s by and how he ran first time, I’m not surprised [that he was in the Derby pool].

“He does have a long way to go,” Brown added. “He has to effectively stretch out and keep progressing. It seems like a deep group of 2-year-old colts this year, so we’ll just see how he does and keep our fingers crossed.”

Coup de Grace will have the services of Javier Castellano on Sunday and will break from post eight. Among his rivals are Gone as Wind, a son of Smart Strike that scored first out at Calder on October 26; and Hy Kodiak Warrior, who adds blinkers after being disqualified first over this track and trip on November 24.

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