02/14/2014 1:45PM

Speightstown: Leading sire by stakes wins

Barbara D. Livingston
Speightstown stands at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky.

Leading Kentucky general sire by stakes wins

Speightstown was relatively one-dimensional as a racehorse. As a sire, he has been anything but, showing versatility that has made him one of the leading sires in North America.

The 2013 season was his best yet, being the leading sire in North America by number of stakes wins (36), second by both progeny earnings and stakes winners, and third by number of individual winners. He was also in the top ten in a host of categories related to synthetic surface racing, turf racing, and 2-year-old performance. Two of his best from the previous 12 months received end-of-year recognition, as Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes winner Dance to Bristol was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter, and Grade 3 winner Essence Hit Man, the two-time defending Canadian champion male sprinter, is once again a Sovereign finalist in that category.

That Speightstown, a son of Gone West, can get sprinters seemed to be a given when he went to stud after winning the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter of 2004, after taking the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park. He won 10 of 16 career starts, with 15 of the starts coming at seven furlongs or less. In his lone start at a mile, he was beaten more than 24 lengths in the 2001 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.

Speightstown went to stud in 2005 at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., for a fee of $40,000, and got off to a good start when his first crop yielded 2008 English Group 2 winner Lord Shanakill. The following year, he was represented by 3-year-old graded stakes winners Haynesfield and Munnings. That initial crop would later produce 2010 Grade 1 winner Jersey Town and 2013 Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard. His subsequent crops produced Travers Stakes winner Golden Ticket and graded stakes winners including Mona de Momma, Poseidon’s Warrior, Sum of the Parts, and Bridgetown.

In 2013, his 23 stakes winners were second only to the 24 by leading sire Kitten’s Joy. Speightstown’s other Grade/Group 1 winners last year aside from Dance to Bristol and Reynaldothewizard were Prioress winner Lighthouse Bay and Hollywood Derby winner Seek Again.

Darren Fox, stallion season director for WinStar, said Speightstown has been a success due to his compatibility with a wide range of mares, as well as being a good option for those looking to find an outcross for Northern Dancer-line mares.

“He appreciates returns of Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew, and has an emerging affinity to Mr. Prospector, to name but a few. He really is an easy stallion to mate mares to.

“And as distance goes, to me it’s a matter of a great sire can get horses that are better than themselves and can get top runners over a wide range of distances. His progeny have been effective at the highest level up to 10 furlongs. He’s getting both good colts and fillies, which is the true mark of a good sire.”

Part of the versatility of Speightstown as a stallion can be attributed to his sire, Gone West, who was a great miler and able to sire a number of top runners at a variety of distances and surfaces. Gone West’s sons include leading sire Elusive Quality, Zafonic, Grand Slam, Mr. Greeley, and Proud Citizen, and they in turn sired horses of varying ability and distance aptitude, though generally leaning more toward sprints.

Speightstown, too, tends to get sprinters more than distance horses, as witnessed by the 6.44-furlong career average winning distance by his progeny.

Fox said that Speightstown’s ability to get turf runners has raised his profile with European breeders, and increased his popularity with those who breed to race.

“With what he has shown and the trajectory he is on, you’re seeing a good selection of breed-to-race owners in his book,” Fox said. “He’s priced right and has done so well commercially, that it’s pretty balanced. People from Europe are taking notice and he got his first group winner, Lord Shanakill, in England from his first crop. Some big owners-breeders from Europe have taken notice and are sending mares as well. They have so much Northern Dancer blood in Europe that they’re looking for an outcross, and he is a great solution.”

Speightstown will stand the 2014 season for a fee of $80,000, and he is expected to get a full book of 130 mares.