Sire Of Sires, WinStar Farm's Champion Speightstown Euthanized

Speightstown | Sarah Andrew

Speightstown (Gone West–Silken Cat, by Storm Cat), Eclipse Champion Sprinter in 2004 and among the leading sires of the past 15 years, had to be euthanized Friday, Dec. 8, due to foot issues from old age, WinStar Farm announced in a press release Friday. Speightstown, a Taylor Made/WinStar stallion, was 25 years old.

“Speightstown was a foundational sire for WinStar and helped stamp our legacy as a sire-making farm,” said Elliott Walden, president, CEO, and racing manager of WinStar Farm. “I want to thank Larry McGinnis and his team for all the love and care they gave “Speighty” as he was lovingly called. They helped him through three colic surgeries, and he had none in the last 13 years. His progeny ran on dirt, turf, six furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, and they always showed their grit. Like with any family member, he will be truly missed. We are fortunate to have his son Nashville in the shedrow, and we look forward to seeing Speightsown's legacy continue through him, and as a broodmare sire.”

WinStar's longtime Stallion Manager Larry McGinnis said, “We've been through a lot together in the last 19 years. We'll miss our friend.”

Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones, Speightstown first made headlines as a yearling when he sold for $2 million to Eugene Melnyk at the 1999 Keeneland July sale. In that era of heady prices, he was the co-fourth highest price of the exclusive sale with the first- and second-leading prices also for yearlings by Gone West.

In addition to being by Gone West, a Grade I winner who was among the leading sire sons of Mr. Prospector, Speightstown was out of Canadian champion 2-year-old filly Silken Cat. The now-deceased mare produced Speightstown as her first foal and 2017 GII Toyota Blue Grass S. winner (and MGISP) Irap (Tiznow) as her last foal. She is also the granddam of two additional graded winners. Silken Cat's fifth dam was the Meadow Stud blue hen Hildene, whose five stakes-winning foals included Hall of Famer Hill Prince and additional champion First Landing.

Niggling injuries kept Speightstown from immediately showing his best on the track. He made only one start at two, finishing 13th and last in a Saratoga maiden special weight. On the bench for five months, he broke his maiden at Gulfstream in his sophomore debut by 6 3/4 lengths and eventually took three straight allowances before closing his season with a second in the GII Amsterdam S. Again benched, this time for 21 months with a knee injury, he completely missed a 4-year-old campaign and reappeared for just two starts at five that yielded a Belmont allowance win and a runner-up finish in the Jaipur H. before another 10 months on the sidelines.

Speightstown | Lee Thomas

It was at the age of six that Speightstown shone. Running in the Melnyk colors under the tutelage of seven-time Eclipse champion trainer Todd Pletcher, he started his campaign with his first black-type victory in the Artax H., then went on a three consecutive Grade II-win tear: the Churchill Downs H., the True North Breeders' Cup H., and the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. He equaled the six-furlong track record of 1:08 at Saratoga in the Vanderbilt. A third in the GI Vosburgh S. snapped Speightstown's four-race win streak, but he came roaring back to win the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint, held that year at Lone Star Park. Voted Eclipse champion sprinter, Speightstown retired with a record of 16-10-2-2 and earnings of $1,258,256, but the best was yet to come.

Retired to WinStar for a stallion venture partnership that included Taylor Made Farm, Speightstown initially stood for $40,000 and was part of a remarkable group of horses that stood their first seasons in 2005, including Tapit, Medaglia d'Oro, and Candy Ride (Arg). All four stallions are regularly among the top 10 leading sires in North America and all stand or have stood for six-figure fees.

To date from 16 crops of racing age, Speightstown has sired 138 black-type winners (9% from starters) and the earners of over $155 million. Among his 65 graded winners are 26 Grade I winners, including Breeders' Cup winners Tamarkuz and Sharing; Travers winner Golden Ticket; Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield; distaffer Dance to Bristol; turfers Force the Pass, Seek Again, Competitionofideas and three-time Sovereign Award winner Lady Speightspeare; and sprinters Reynaldothewizard, Jersey Town, Rock Fall, Poseidon's Warrior and dual Sovereign Award-winning sprinter Essence Hit Man.

“Speightstown's rise reminds me of Distorted Humor,” said WinStar president and CEO Elliott Walden in 2013, “that rare ability to sire Grade I quality at all distances and all surfaces with top fillies and colts.”

Although Speightstown never won beyond seven furlongs and raced exclusively on the dirt, a hallmark of his progeny has been versatility, with graded winners both short and long and on both dirt and turf. In addition, despite Speightstown taking several years to mature into a stakes winner himself, he has had his share of black-type winners both as young horses and as older runners. Speightstown's 2020 was a banner year featuring four individual Grade I winners: Echo Town and Charlatan in the U.S., Lady Speightspeare in Canada, and Mozu Superflare in Japan. In 2023, Speightstown has been represented by 106 winners including GI Runhappy Del Mar Futurity victor Prince of Monaco.

In recent years, Speightstown has also made a mark as a burgeoning sire of sires. His son Munnings closed out 2022 among the top 10 leading sires in the U.S. by earnings, finishing just one spot ahead of Speightstown himself, and is currently among the top five leading sires in the U.S. by earnings through 2023. In addition, Central Banker is among the leading sires in New York and Jersey Town sired a Grade I winner in his first crop. Speightstown is well-represented by sons at stud led by new additions Olympiad and Nasvhille along with Charlatan and Lexitonian.

Speightstown is also starting to make an impact as a broodmare sire, as his daughters have produced 62 stakes winners–24 graded–to date, including Grade I winners Aloha West (Hard Spun), Mia Mischief (Into Mischief) and Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}), as well as the late Laoban (Uncle Mo).

Speightstown was slated to stand in 2024 for $80,000 LFSN at the time of his death.

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