02/06/2017 9:37AM

Bergman: Artspeak has the raw speed to succeed as a stallion

Derick Giwner
Artspeak posted a career best mile of 1:47 4/5 in 2015.

In a “what have you done for me lately society,” often those with incredible accomplishments are cast to the side. Take Artspeak for example. The flawless 2-year-old from 2014 was nearly perfect annexing the Metro and Governor’s Cup in a brilliant campaign, then he was nearly forgotten a year later, hidden a notch below the exploits of Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit.

“We ran into Wiggle It Jiggleit,” said Scott Zeron, reflecting on the 3-year-old season that was respectable, but not above the rest.

“I tried beating him on the front end in the Jug and it didn’t work. I tried beating him from the pocket at Pocono but it didn’t work,” said Zeron of Artspeak’s sophomore campaign.

The racing is now behind Artspeak as he heads into his second career as a stallion. The solidly built and impeccably bred son of Western Ideal has a couple of things that Wiggle It Jiggleit is lacking.

[DRF HARNESS EYE: The digital edition of Harness Eye is now available for just $6! Monthly rates are as low as $2.67 per issue.]

Retired after his 3-year-old campaign, Artspeak defied the Gural rules which will prohibit his first crop from competing at The Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon, but Zeron, his regular pilot during his racing career, doesn’t think it will have an impact on his future success. “He wasn’t a big horse but he had a huge stride. I think he may be a little under the radar,” Zeron said.

Artspeak’s greatness was on full display as a 2-year-old and Zeron was impressed the first time he sat behind him. “He had explosive speed. I purposely raced him from off the pace a lot as a 2-year-old because I thought he was that much better and could come a quarter in 26 seconds anytime I asked,” said Zeron.

Artspeak won eight of his 10 starts as a 2-year-old with his only two defeats coming after breaks in stride. Even with the breaks, Artspeak would recover following one of them in the Governor’s Cup elimination to finish third. A week later he would dominate his rivals in a 1:50 4/5 mile at Woodbine. That was two-fifths of a second slower than his victory in the Metro at Mohawk early in the season. Both efforts were from off the pace and Artspeak would not be denied in that solid freshman class.

As a sophomore, Artspeak may have had trouble with Wiggle It Jiggleit but he persevered through a long season and ended the year on a high note setting his 1:47 4/5 career mark at the Tattersalls in the fall of 2015 at The Red Mile. He came back to capture a Breeders Crown elimination at Woodbine and would finish a solid second behind Freaky Feet Pete in the Crown finale. He completed a two-year racing career with a 14-5-3 record in 27 starts.

Artspeak routinely flashed 26-second final quarters throughout his career and it’s that kind of explosiveness that breeders are looking for in the next generation.

Out of The Art Museum, Artspeak is tied with the already successful stallion American Ideal as the fastest son of Western Ideal. He hopes to follow in the path of other great sires from this potent line that includes the late and unquestionably great Rocknroll Hanover and Always A Virgin, sire of the fastest pacer of all time and Horse of the Year for 2016 Always B Miki.

What breeders have to expect from Artspeak is a horse with early speed and a solid gait. “He had such a long stride that we had to have a custom bike for him,” said Zeron of the $1.6 million lifetime winner.

Artspeak bred more than 100 mares in his first year at stud at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania. In foal from the first crop will be a half-brother or sister to Big Jim as well as a half-brother or sister to millionaires American Jewel and Luck Be Withyou.

Artspeak stands for a $5,000 fee.