By Ben Massam
When Mr Speaker (Pulpit) set foot on the grounds at Lane’s End Farm Friday to begin preparations for the 2018 breeding season, his return represented the culmination of a year-long ordeal that left the third-year stallion quarantined in Chile being treated for piroplasmosis, a tick-borne disease found in horses.
After covering 117 mares while fully syndicated in his first year at Lane’s End in 2016, Mr Speaker was shipped to stand his initial Southern Hemisphere season at Haras Cordillera in Chile. When the GI Belmont Derby winner returned to Miami at the conclusion of the year in December 2016, he was not permitted to re-enter the United States due to a positive test–a development that left the Lane’s End team searching for answers.
“He was tested when he left Chile, but they didn’t get the results until he got to Miami,” said Lane’s End’s Bill Farish. “He was tested again when he got to Miami, and he was positive for piroplasmosis. They said the option was to send him back to Chile…So he got back there and there was a very lengthy treatment protocol that took a long, long time to work. He tested basically every month for a year. Thankfully, he’s testing negative again.”
The recent negative tests opened the door for the Mr Speaker’s return to America earlier this month. After spending a week in quarantine in Miami, the stallion was finally cleared to make his way back to Kentucky.
“It was quite a surprise,” Farish said, reflecting on the past year. “It really is a blow to syndicate members and to us whenever you have a young stallion entering his second year at stud. When you can’t have that second season, it’s tough.”
When asked about Mr Speaker’s future prospects, Farish said it has been a work in progress calling attention to the fact he has returned to the United States. Because Mr Speaker was absent for the entirety of what would have been his second year at stud in North America–effectively putting a halt to the continuity of his career–the young stallion will likely need to prove himself all over again in 2018.
“It’s just starting to dawn on people,” Farish said. “The shareholders are obviously well aware and excited to have him back, as are we. But with the general breeder out there, we’re trying to get the word out to them that he’s available again…He’s a very intriguing prospect being bred the same way as Tapit and he’s such a good looking horse. It’s a new frontier for us having a third-year horse who wasn’t here his second year.”
If there was a silver lining to an otherwise unfortunate situation, it is that Farish and company were pleased with the reception given to Mr Speaker’s first foals at the November sale. Selling for up to $70,000, the weanlings drew positive reviews from buyers and sellers alike reporting back to Farish.
“His weanlings were well received for a horse who wasn’t in the country at the time,” Farish said. “Not just the prices–we had people coming up to us saying, ‘I’ve got a really nice Mr. Speaker.'”
Farish said the immediate concern remains raising awareness that Mr Speaker is back in the Bluegrass, and as such, he said he encourages visitors to Lane’s End Farm.