04/30/2004 11:00PM

Speightstown wire to wire in Churchill 'Cap


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Less than 24 hours after winning the Kentucky Oaks with Ashado, the preeminent trainer-jockey team of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez was once again beaming in the winner's circle after Speightstown rolled to a front-running victory in the 70th running of the $221,800 on Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day.

Owned by Eugene and Laura Melnyk, Speightstown dominated the Grade 2 CD 'Cap, rushing to the early lead before pulling away to a 3 1/2-length triumph over McCann's Mojave. Publication finished two more lengths back in third, and Congaree, the 9-10 favorite in a field of seven older horses, failed to seriously menace when finishing another two lengths back in fourth.

Speightstown, a 6-year-old horse by Gone West, returned $12.80 after finishing seven furlongs in 1:21.38 over a fast track. Speightstown was making his second start of the year and just his fourth since August 2001. Pletcher said minor injuries have limited Speightstown's racing opportunities, "but when he's on his 'A' game, he is very, very good."

After breaking from post 1, Speightstown maintained about a length margin over McCann's Mojave to the top of the stretch, where he quickly drew clear. "Nobody went with me, and it made it extremely easy for him," said Velazquez.

Speightstown now has won seven of 12 starts and over $410,000. Like Ashado, he was bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones.

Easily the biggest disappointment of the race was Congaree, the $3.25 million earner who finished third in the 2001 Kentucky Derby.

"He just didn't want to run today," said jockey Jerry Bailey. "He broke okay, but then it was all a struggle."

The $2 exacta paid $67.60 and the $2 trifecta paid $190.20.

The winning time was .88 seconds off the stakes record, set three years ago by Alannan.