By Sid Fernando
Munnings, a first-crop sire by Speightstown at Ashford Stud for Coolmore, had two stakes winners a week ago, bringing his total to three so far as he makes a late-season impression with his first two-year-olds. He already has an impressive 25 winners—best in North America among freshman sires—and coupled with the 14 first-crop winners in Europe for Lord Shanakill, another son of Speightstown, they are shining the spotlight on their sire’s abilities as a potential sire maker, particularly of early-developing stock. This wasn’t Speightstown’s own profile, but it may bode well for his other young sons at stud waiting in the wings, such as Central Banker, Haynesfield, Jersey Town, Poseidon’s Warrior and Country Day.
By Gone West from Silken Cat, by Storm Cat, Speightstown, a foal of 1998, was a $2 million yearling from a family that included several good two-year-old stakes winners (SWs). His dam, for instance, won all three of her starts at two, including the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine, and raced only once more at three. Silken Cat’s half-sister Meadow Silk (by Meadowlake) produced the two-year-old SW Run Production (by Saint Ballado), a winner of three of five starts at two and a good regional sire in Louisiana. Further back in the family, there’s Copernica (by Nijinsky), a two-time G1 winner at two, and her son Crusader Sword (by Damascus), also a G1 winner at two.
Moreover, Speightstown’s broodmare sire, Storm Cat, won three of six starts, including a G1, at two, and he wasn’t much at three. Because Gone West and Storm Cat were produced from Secretariat mares, Speightstown, a copper chestnut, is inbred 3×4 to that iconic chestnut who was Horse of the Year at two in addition to his considerable exploits at three.
With that in mind, consider this: Speightstown was last in his only start at two (‘raced greenly, tired,’ says the chart of the $2.45-1 favorite), was plagued by injuries thoughout his career (didn’t race from 8/3/2001 at three when hurt as runner-up in the G2 Amesterdam to 5/9/2003 at five), but nevertheless blossomed as a top-class older horse, winning five of six starts at six, including the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, two other graded races, and the Eclipse Award for champion sprinter.
Speightstown, a muscular, compact, and attractive horse, entered stud in 2005 at WinStar for a $40,000 fee, where it remained until dropping to $35,000 in 2009 and 2010 during the first two years of the global recession.
Now, if you’d thought that Speightstown would revert back to pedigree and sire top-class two-year-olds or early season three-year-olds because the only reason he himself wasn’t one was due to the injuries, you were wrong.
Take a look at the records of his 11 G1 winners to date and a distinct pattern—one similar to his own racing record—emerges.
Speightstown had five first-crop G1 winners (foals of 2006) but none of them won their top-level races before July of their three-year-old seasons and most won at four and up. Most were sprinters or milers like him.
*Reynaldothewizard won the Dubai Golden Shaheen at seven in 2013.
*Haynesfield won the Jockey Club Gold at four in 2010.
*Lord Shanakill won the Prix Jean Prat at three in 2009 (in July).
*Jersey Town won the Cigar Mile at four in 2010.
*Mona de Momma won the Humana Distaff at four in 2010.
Speightstown didn’t have any G1 winners in his second crop, and only one from his third crop (foals of 2008).
*Poseidon’s Warrior won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at four in 2012.
Speightstown had three G1 winners in his fourth crop (foals of 2009).
*Golden Ticket won Travers at three in late August in 2012.
*Dance to Bristol won the Ballerina at four in 2013.
*Argentine-bred She’s Happy won the Estrellas Sprint at the end of the SH year at three in 2013, in June.
Speightstown has had two G1 winners to date from his fifth crop (foals of 2010).
*Seek Again won the Hollywood Derby at three at the end of the year in 2013.
*Lighthouse Bay won the Prioress at three in 2013, in late July.
So, no two-year-old G1 winners for Speightstown, and none before July at three, around the time Speightstown himself first hit the board in a stakes race, running second to City Zip in the Amsterdam in early August of his three-year-old season.
In 2011 and 2012, with the G1 winners coming, Speightstown’s fee went back up, to $50,000, and in 2013 it was $60,000. In 2014 and 2015, his fee is $80,000—double that of his initial fee.
What all this means for Munnings—and Lord Shanakill in Ireland—is that perhaps the best is still to come. Despite selling for $1.7 million as a two-year-old, Munnings didn’t win his first stakes race until June of his three-year-old season, in the G2 Woody Stephens, and he also won a G2 race at four. Even considering the two-year-old successes of his first crop, he may also be influenced by the Speightstown effect.
Munnings stands for $10,000 in 2015.