OCEANPORT, N.J.— Speaking, a homebred for Holly Crest Farm, boasted a frontrunning score in the $102,000 New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap on Sunday at Monmouth Park.
Departing the gate from post position 2 in the seven-horse field, Speaking and jockey Albin Jiminez traveled up the rail and grabbed the lead, one length in front of Dr. Doyle and defending champion, Pickin’ Time. Speaking set the pace through fractions of 22.11 and 44.67, and his leading margin extended to two lengths as the field headed into the stretch, ⅝ posted in 56.79.
Pickin’ Time crossed the wire 1 ½ lengths in front of his closest rival. The son of Stay Thirsty stopped the clock in 1:09.57.
Dr. Doyle won a photo for second. Off the pace runner Pianzi rallied late for third. Pickin’ Time, a graded stakes winner and the winner of this race last year, wound up finishing fifth.
The top three finishers paid 5.60, 9.00, and 4.80 for their respective places.
Winning trainer Eddie Owens Jr. said after the race that the Grade 2 Vosburgh on October 8th at Aqueduct is under consideration for Speaking:
“He’s a very consistent horse. The plan, since we were on the inside, was to avoid getting covered up, to get him to the front and let him settle. He did everything perfectly today. After his maiden win I knew he had a chance to be special. I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of him yet. I think he will go a little longer. So we may try him next in the (Grade 2) Vosburg (at Aqueduct on Oct. 8). He has shown he can compete against open company. His last race we didn’t put enough into him. He put in a very slow work and I don’t think we had him tight enough and it showed. He got tired the last sixteenth. We got him ready for this one and he showed what he is capable of.”
Albin Jimenez had good things to say about his mount:
“Eddie had him ready for this. He put in an extra work and two fast works to have him ready. The plan was to get to the lead and let them see if they can catch him. I wanted to take advantage of the post position (post 2) and get him out there. He was very good today. He’s a really nice horse who has shown he doesn’t just have to be in with Jersey-breds. He can race against open company too.”
On August 29th, just one day shy of a year before his New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap triumph, Speaking cruised home to win his debut by 6 ¼ lengths. He followed that effort up with an easy victory in the Smoke Glacken Stakes. A try in the Grade 3 Nashua and a handful of placings in stakes company also preceded today’s win. All four of Speaking’s wins have come at Monmouth Park, and he has only been off the board once in seven races at the Jersey track.
By Amber Joyce, Contributing Editor
Main photo: Speaking wins the New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)