Having chased two of the leading 3-year-old fillies in the land in her last couple of starts, Speech looms as the primary target for five rivals in Friday’s $100,000 Beaumont Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
The Beaumont, over the Beard Course of 7 furlongs and 184 feet, is the first stakes of an abbreviated five-day stand at Keeneland that was to begin Wednesday and run through Sunday as a make-up following the April spring meet’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Beaumont also offers Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points of 20-8-4-2 to the top four finishers.
Speech has already compiled 60 points, via second-place efforts in the Santa Ysabel (G3) and Santa Anita Oaks (G2), the latter behind Swiss Skydiver. But it was her neck loss to Gamine two starts back in an Oaklawn Park allowance that makes her the one to beat in the Beaumont after that rival’s historic triumph in last month’s Acorn (G1).
Although light in numbers with just six entries, the Beaumont has come up a solid test for Speech. Returning from a long absence is Wicked Whisper, who led throughout in taking the Frizette (G1) in October but followed up with a dull fifth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Trainer Ian Wilkes has entered a pair, most notably Four Graces. The daughter of Majesticperfection has won three of four in a career that commenced Mar. 1, including a 2 1/2-length decision in the Dogwood (G3) at Churchill Downs last month. Wilkes also saddles Turtle Trax, runner-up in a May 25 Churchill allowance that has already yielded two Grade 3 winners.
Completing the field is Sconsin, a five-length allowance scorer at Churchill last out, and Slam Dunk, who finished third to Wicked Whisper in the Frizette but folded badly in her only previous start this year.