Will Mr. Speaker have the floor? A look inside his dirt pedigree

[With the Travers a few days away, Bob Schless did some digging into the pedigree of Mr. Speaker. He’s also written an excellent piece on Bayern. Read on for more. SA] On July 5, Mr. Speaker, ignored at 23-1 odds, found a seam along the rail in the $500,000 G1 Belmont Derby and in a stretch run defeated the Aiden O’ Brien traveler Adelaide by a neck to win the mile and a quarter turf race. He’s been flattered ever since then as Adelaide went on to win The Secretariat last weekend while the 4th place finisher Gailo Chop won a Group 2 in France. Here is the video:

Why did his connections decide to point him to the G1 Travers Stakes on dirt? He’s raced in 8 of 9 career starts on either grass or synthetics. His only dirt try was a 7th place finish in the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream. What I’m not going to do is sit here and question Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey’s direction for the horse. What I will do his examine his pedigree to see how well he’ll take to dirt and further if he’s got the talent to be competitive in this race.

Mr. Speaker has 4 wins, 1 place, and 1 show out of 9 career starts. He finished off his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the Grade 3 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park. His 3 year old year began with The Holy Bull, his only dirt try. He finished 7th — 11 lengths back. I feel this race is a throw out because he uncommonly raced near the lead with a swift pace which led to him tire at the end. Mr. Speaker runs his best races when allowed to fall back and make a run with his big turn of foot as he did in The Belmont Derby. In 2014. along with winning the Belmont Derby he won the Grade 3 Lexington on polytrack and finished a half length 2nd in the Grade 3 Palm Beach.

What I will do his examine his pedigree to see how well he’ll take to dirt and further if he’s got the talent to be competitive in this race.

So in my eyes, Mr. Speaker may have the talent to run with Tonalist, Wicked Strong and Bayern in this race given his accomplishments on the track. Let’s look at his pedigree to find the clues.

Looking at his dam sire line shows us Unbridled then Fappiano and finally Mr. Prospector. First of all they were all dirt runners. As sires, their most famous offspring were dirt runners as well. Unbridled is the last stallion to have sired at least one winner in each of the American Triple Crown races: Grindstone, Kentucky Derby, 1996; Red Bullet, Preakness Stakes, 2000; and Empire Maker, Belmont Stakes, 2003. One of Grindstone’s foals, Birdstone, upset Smarty Jones to win the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Birdstone, in turn, sired Mine That Bird, a gelding that won the 2009 Kentucky Derby and Summer Bird, a colt that won the 2009 Belmont Stakes, giving Unbridled three generations of Triple Crown race winners. Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby as well in 1990 as well as a Breeders’ Cup Classic that same year. As a broodmare sire he is known to pass along a bunch of stamina to his offspring as well (8.28 AWD). Fappiano, Mr. Speaker’s 2nd dam sire, won The Met Mile and Forego on the race track. He also has an interesting sire connection for the Triple Crown.  He was the grandsire of two different horses that combined to win all three U.S. Triple Crown races in the same year when Real Quiet won the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and Victory Gallop won the 1998 Belmont Stakes. Fappiano too gives off a significant amount of distance as a broodmare sire (8.21AWD). Mr. Prospector was a lightning fast dirt sprinter who has created a whole sire line full of classic distance dirt winners. Mr. Speaker’s three dam sires all have dirt in their pedigree and were champion race horses who went on to produce classic champions, so this bodes well for Mr. Speaker’s chances to excel on Saratoga dirt next Saturday.

Mr. Speaker’s dam is Salute. She had two stake’s placings in the Grade 2 Demoiselle and Grade 3 Tempted.  She is the daughter of the undefeated all time great filly Personal Ensign. Not only did she light up the track but she knocked it out in the breeding shed as well, becoming Kentucky Broodmare of the Year in 1996. She produced 3 Grade 1 winners and 1 grade placed runner, Our Emblem, who sired derby winner War Emblem. Through her daughter My Flag she had three generations of success in the Breeders’ Cup. No other mare has duplicated this feat. His 3rd dam is 1988 Broodmare of the Year Grecian Banner, who besides giving out Personal Ensign also foaled G1 winner Personal Flag (million dollar earner). Mr. Speaker’s 4th dam is Dorine, a champion sprinter out of Argentina. Finally his 5th dam Doria was a multiple stakes winner in Argentina as well. Once again you see females who ran on dirt and so did their moms and dads. Mr. Speaker is out of the female family number 6 that produced the 2002 Broodmare of the Year and blue hen mare Toussaud. She had five different Grade 1 winners from five different stallions, including the great Empire Maker. This line up of mares will take Mr. Speaker a long way towards trying to win The Travers Saturday.

Mr. Speaker’s sire line is Pulpit, A.P. Indy and Seattle Slew. Pulpit won The Fountain of Youth and Bluegrass Stakes before finishing fourth in the 1997 Kentucky Derby. He suffered an injury in the race and was retired. Much like his sire, A.P. Indy, Pulpit proved to be a very successful stallion. This past year he was the grandsire of Untappable, California Chrome and Tonalist. He also has 2 Breeders’ Cup Winners in Corinthian (Dirt Mile) and Stardom Bound (Juvenile Fillies). His foals have earned more than 60 million dollars. Hall of Famer A.P. Indy, Mr. Speaker’s 2nd sire, won The Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1992 while earning just under 3 million dollars on the racetrack in just 11 career starts. In 2003 and 2006 he also became the Leading Sire in North America. Both Pulpit and A.P. Indy give off great amounts of stamina to their offspring. A.P. Indy has sired over 150 stakes winners and over 30 Grade 1 winners. He is also a known sire of sires, giving us Bernardini, Mineshaft, Malibu Moon, and Majestic Warrior. His dad, Seattle Slew, is the only horse to ever win the Triple Crown while undefeated. He also passed along a very high Average Winning Distance of 8.54 to his offspring and was the Sire of the year in 1984. All three of these horses would qualify as dirt horses: they raced on dirt and there best offspring were dirt runners. There  is a ton of brilliance in Mr. Speaker’s sire line, and distance as well. This is once again another area of his pedigree that stamps Mr. Speaker’s abilities to excel on dirt and take on all comers in this race.

Read Bob Schless’ profile of Bayern at his blog here.

Image: Dave, “Vintage Postcard, House of Representatives, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.” Copyright 2007.