TORONTO, September 20, 2020 – Lady Speightspeare, under vigorous handling by Emma-Jayne Wilson, punched her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with a three-quarter length score in Sunday’s Grade 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.
A victory in the $253,000 Natalma, a one-mile turf race for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, earned Lady Speightspeare a fees-paid berth in the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which will be run at Keeneland this year on November 6.
Lady Speightspeare, owned and bred by Charles Fipke and conditioned by Roger Attfield, came into the Natalma off a front-running victory over seven furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf course and was the slight 5-2 favourite in the field of seven two-year-old fillies for the Natalma.
And although the Kentucky-bred was skittish when first entering the starting gate, forcing Wilson to bail out, she was all business once the pair had reunited and reloaded.
“In the starting gate, she acted up a little bit, but a little bit was a testament to her intent. Last time she ran, she was such a racehorse,” said Wilson, who had ridden Lady Speightspeare to the front-end victory in her only previous start. “She broke through the pack early and went to the lead with such intent, I think it was the same thing today in the gate. She knew it was coming, they yelled ‘last one,’ she was anticipating the doors to open so she popped up a little.
“But kudos to the gate crew here at Woodbine, they kept her straight and steady so, despite her rearing, she didn’t manage to get herself hung up or hurt in anyway, which meant she was able to compete and win today.”
While Lady Speightspeare had settled into second place in the Natalma after Big Big Plans, the rank outsider in the field, showed the way through fractions of :23.77, :47.92 and 1:11.59.
“It’s interesting, she relaxed better than I expected but I wasn’t overly surprised,” said the jockey.
“Like I said, in her first start, she ran to the lead with gumption and it took me by surprise. Today, there was little more pace in the race, and I didn’t want to get hung up, caught up in between.
“When we’ve been training her since then, she’s known more, she’s settled more in her breezes with her intensity so I was hopeful that would translate into the race today and it did. The doors opened and I just kind of put my hands down and the outside horse out-stepped her the first little bit and she showed that composure of a race horse, she knew that she was going to get a chance to run and I had a chance to let that horse cross over and just put her right on her flank and she settled into stride, got into rhythm and, man, when they started to come to her, just like last time, she really leveled off and dug in.”
Lady Speightspeare finally put away the longshot leader with a furlong to run and held sway for her game victory.
Alda, returning from Fair Hill, Maryland after capturing the Catch A Glimpse over 6 ½ furlongs of turf, held a decided edge in experience on the winner and while she loomed a serious threat in mid-stretch, she was simply unable to track down the determined winner.
The strong second choice at 2.60-1, Alda finished 2 ¾ lengths to the good of Seasons, who had trailed the field at the quarter pole but rallied to snatch third money by a head from Dreaming of Drew.
Dreaming of Drew, who had missed narrowly in the Catch A Glimpse, stalked throughout on the inside but was unable to mount an effective rally.
Sleek Lynx raced within striking distance but also was unable to close the gap and checked in fifth, another three-quarters of a length back.
Stunning Princess and Big Big Plans completed the order of finish as the mile was clocked in 1:34.61 on firm going.
Lady Speightspeare was the third Natalma winner for dual Hall of Famer Attfield, who sent out the superstar Alywow to capture the 1993 running and Llanarmon to turn the trick in 2013.
And the trainer was more than pleased that his charge had shown an ability to rate after her 3 ¾ length debut win.
“That’s always nice to see,” said Attfield. “When you break your maiden and you’re going into a race like this off of going wire-to-wire you really haven’t had any education or anything going into something like this so it was nice to see that for sure.”
Regarding a Breeders’ Cup venture, Attfield minced no words.
“Well, that would be up to Mr. Fipke, and I would say knowing Mr. Fipke we probably are,” he said.
A daughter of Speightstown and the Theatrical mare, Lady Shakespeare, Lady Speightspeare returned $7, $3.90 and $2.90. The 6-5 exacta with Alda ($3.70, $3) was worth $21.90, the 6-5-2 trifecta rounded out by Seasons ($3.50) came back at $97.70, and the 6-5-2-4 superfecta completed by Dreaming of Drew came back at $95.85.