LEXINGTON, Ky. — Shirl’s Speight, whose chances at winning Friday’s $577,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland were far better than his 50-1 morning line price suggested, nailed 9-5 favorite Masen in the final strides to give Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield a record-breaking third win in the race.
Attfield, in post-race comments, was incredulous at the early odds on Shirl’s Speight, a grandson of Perfect Soul, whom he trained to victory in the 2004 Maker’s Mark Mile.
“I won this race with his grandfather, and he’s a better miler than he is,” said Attfield, who also won the race in 1992 with Shudanz when it was known as the Fort Harrod.
Shirl’s Speight, a homebred racing for Charles Fipke, was sent off at 9-1 in the field of eight. Trailing all but Count Again while Smooth Like Strait set a pace of :24.95, :49.63, and 1:13.38 over a turf labeled good, Shirl’s Speight was shifted wide entering the stretch by Luis Saez, uncorked his rally in the final furlong, and caught new leader Masen in a thriller.
Completing the course in 1:35.93, Shirl’s Speight paid $20. Masen, making his U.S. debut for Chad Brown, finished second by a neck over Smooth Like Strait. Completing the order of finish were Atone, Mira Mission, Count Again, Set Piece, and In Love. Scratched from the race were graded stakes winners Ivar, Somelikeithotbrown, and Public Sector.
Shirl’s Speight kicked off his career in 2020 with back-to-back wins at Woodbine, including the Marine (G3), but finished seventh when ambitiously placed in the Woodbine Mile (G1). Third next out in his season finale, the Toronto Cup, Shirl’s Speight was sidelined for most of 2021 with suspensory issues.
After a poor run over the Gulfstream Park Tapeta track in his return to racing in December, Shirl’s Speight earned consecutive wins at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, including the Feb. 5 Tampa Bay (G3) by 1 1/2 lengths as a 9-1 chance. His record now stands at 9-5-0-1, $613,821.
A five-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Speightstown, Shirl’s Speight was produced by Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner Perfect Shirl, a daughter of Perfect Soul and the Grade 1-winning Lady Shirl.
Her World took most of the wagering dollars in the $155,100 Limestone S., but it was her Wesley Ward-trained stablemate, Ruthin, who took home most of the purse in the 5 1/2-furlong turf dash for three-year-old fillies.
Making her first start since finishing seventh as the favorite in the Windsor Castle S. at Royal Ascot last June, Ruthin outfooted Her World and six other rivals leaving the gate, surprising jockey John Velazquez.
“I didn’t think she was going to be that fast,” Velazquez said.
Setting a pace of :22.59 and :45.83, Ruthin held off an inside bid from Her World in midstretch and then found the wire in time as Derrynane made an impressive rally, which fell short by a neck.
Owned by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, Ruthin covered the course in 1:03.33 and paid $18.20
Derrynane, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) when last seen in November, finished second by three parts of a length over Her World, favored at 11-10. Lost My Sock was a neck behind in fourth and was followed by Unbridled Mary, Gun Boat, Sin City Gal, and Thunder Love.
Bred in Great Britain by Highclere Stud and Jake Warren, Ruthin has now won two of three starts. She opened her account with a six-length maiden win last April at Keeneland, also over 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, and has bankrolled $111,233.
By Ribchester, Ruthn was produced by the stakes-winning Selinka, a daughter of Selkirk who’s also reared the multiple Group 3 winner Hit the Bud.