TORONTO, July 25, 2020 – Charles Fipke’s homebred Shirl’s Speight put on another impressive show, this time in Saturday’s $125,000 Marine Stakes (Grade 3), at Woodbine.
After a head-turning debut in his career bow on July 4, Shirl’s Speight, under leading rider Rafael Hernandez, was at the top his game again in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, for three-year-olds.
Trained by Roger Attfield, the son of Speightstown came into the main track event off an eight-length score at seven furlongs over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Sent off as the even-money choice in the Marine, Shirl’s Speight broke sharply from the outside gate and tracked pacesetter Untitled through early splits of :24.59 and :48.68.
The front-end battle continued through three-quarters in 1:12.34 as the duo further distanced themselves from their five rivals.
Shirl’s Speight easily took control soon after, holding a three-length advantage at track announcer Robert Geller’s stretch call, going on to record a victory that looked much easier than the 2 ¾-length margin at the wire.
Lucky Curlin, the 2-1 second choice on the tote board, was second, while Queen’s Plate-eligible Dotted Line finished third. Untitled was fourth.
The final time was 1:43.42 over the Tapeta.
“Like I said before, he’s a horse with a tremendous amount of ability,” said Attfield, who earned his record fifth Marine, and first since 1993 (Cheery Knight). “He just had that one race and he never learned anything from that race. He did get the experience from it, so today was going to be more interesting.”
The Hall of Fame conditioner felt confident in his horse’s chances ahead of the race, and even more so after the race was underway.
“He settled down and rated. Once he got to the five-eighths pole, I was pretty sure he’d just keep galloping around there. He’s a very nice horse, for sure.”
It was something Attfield discovered well before Shirl’s Speight’s early July debut.
“I’ve been excited about this horse from last year, to be honest with you. He was always the workmate with Mr. Hustle, who finished up as [2019 Canadian] champion two-year-old, and he [Shirl’s Speight] always looked like he might be the stronger of the two, and just sprinting. I said, ‘He’ll stay. This horse will stay.’ I was pretty sure he’d stay. But I had to put him away because he got jarred up and he needed some time. I couldn’t wait to get him back this spring because I’ve been thinking about this horse all winter.”
Shirl’s Speight paid $4.10, $2.80 and $2.60, combining with Lucky Curlin ($2.80, $2.40) for a $13.10 (7-1) exactor. A 7-1-4 triactor (Dotted Line, $4.40 to show) was worth $38.95 for a $1 ticket, while a $1 Superfecta [7-1-4-6 (Untitled)] came back $108.70.