Warren Miller, co-owner of Freedom Speaks, expected his 3-year-old filly to run well. Actually winning? Now that wasn’t something he fathomed.
But there was Freedom Speaks, reeling in front-running Happy Soul to take the $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey Music City Stakes by a head Tuesday at the FanDuel meet at Kentucky Downs.
“I knew she’d run good, I just didn’t think she’d run that good,” said Miller, who owns Freedom Speaks with Carol Reitman. “You never expect to win. We were patient, and we spaced her races.” He paused and added, “I just can’t believe she won.”
The Jeremiah Englehart-trained Freedom Speaks and jockey Jose Lezcano were content to settle into fourth or fifth, 1 1/2 or two lengths off the pace through the opening half-mile. Meanwhile, Happy Soul set fast early fractions of 21.63 seconds and 44.78 under Irad Ortiz. After waiting for racing room in upper stretch and splitting horses, Freedom Speaks was still 1 1/2 lengths off the lead as Happy Soul passed the furlong marker in 1:08.95. Those two were all-out to the wire as Freedom Speaks got up for the win in the final strides while completing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.35.
Trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who was sent Freedom Speaks after her first two career starts in the spring, watched the race with his family at his home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
“On the turn, it looked, after she was coming down the hill, that maybe she came off the bridle,” he said by phone. “I was a little worried, but I saw Jose looking for a place to go and that gave me a good feeling the rest of the way. The rest of it was her and him.”
Said Lezcano: “This is a great meet. I am very happy that Jeremiah and the owner gave me the opportunity to ride this filly. I think she is a very nice filly. I had a very good trip. I had never rode her before and I watched the replays. She broke very good and when I asked her, the other filly kept going but she kept finding, finding and finding. She was not going to get beat. I watched the (two) races she won. This is a horse that has heart. I just wanted to give her the best chance to win and stay out of her way.”
Happy Soul, a 15-1 shot, triggered a $275.34 payoff for the $2 exacta, with the $1 trifecta returning $1,325.64.
Oeuvre finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, after being eighth after the first half-mile. Static Fire was just a neck in arrears to get fourth. Next across the finish line were Poppy Flower, Bubble Rock, Dreamworker, Glenall (IRE), Sister Lou Ann, Have A Good Day (IRE), Majestic d’Oro and Sunday Grace. Royal Engagement and Seduce were scratched.
Freedom Speaks paid $12.56 to win as the second choice in the capacity field of twelve 3-year-old fillies. She’s now 2 for 2 on turf and for Englehart, including winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race at Saratoga.
Freedom Speaks was purchased for $145,000 at the 2022 OBS winter mixed sale after a very fast three-eighths of a mile breeze. Trainer Ronald Spatz had Freedom Speaks for her first two career races: a six-length debut triumph over Gulfstream Park’s synthetic surface May 12 and a second-place in a $75,000 stakes at Gulfstream June 18. In the filly’s first start for the New York-based Englehart, she won a Saratoga grass allowance sprint.
“Ron Spatz, accomplished horseman, prepped her and we sent her up to Jeremiah at Saratoga to get her out of South Florida for the summer,” Miller said. “Heather Coots, the assistant trainer, was on her the whole time. She just blossomed. She came off the van from Saratoga absolutely perfect. The groom came down from Saratoga, and Heather gives her sweet potatoes. She loves sweet potatoes, and the rest is history. She just kept getting better and better and better.”
Said Englehart: “When watching her break her maiden on synthetic, I thought the most impressive part was the last sixteenth of a mile. Heather Coots worked her on the grass and she said it seemed like the right fit for her. I thought the race at Saratoga was a salty little spot.”
Freedom Speaks, a Kentucky-bred daughter of American Freedom, now is 3-1-0 in four starts, earning $392,350 with the $288,300 payday.
It was Englehart’s first starter ever at Kentucky Downs.
“I had this race on the calendar and it was something I was shooting for even before the allowance at Saratoga,” he said. “Heather gave me confidence when she said she thought he came out of the race better than she went into it.
“I was really excited about it. My wife and kids, we were all watching it. Look at what they have done down there (with purses). It just keeps getting better and better. It’s like winning a race at Saratoga. Very exciting.”
Kentucky Downs Press Release
Photo: The gray Freedom Speaks, with Jose Lezcano up, edged Happy Soul in the $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey Music City Stakes. (Coady Photography)