Speed Boat Beach hops a win on grass in Speakeasy

October 2, 2022

ARCADIA, Calif. – A lights-out first time maiden winner on dirt, heavily favored Speed Boat Beach tried grass today at Santa Anita and proved best, overcoming an awkward start to win by 1 ¼ lengths under Juan Hernandez. 

Trained by Bob Baffert, Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Speed Boat Beach got five furlongs on turf in 55.25.

The Speakeasy, a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, thus provides Speed Boat Beach with a fees-paid berth into the Grade I, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland Nov. 4.

Hopping slightly at the break from his outside post position, Speed Boat Beach was quickly into stride, tracking longshot Helladic and Tyler Baze around the turn before taking shaking loose a sixteenth of a mile out.

“He’s really fast and he’s a really good horse. The inside horse (Helladic), he kind of broke better than me, but I had the best position outside. I saw the inside horse trying to go, so I just let him go and I let my horse get comfortable because it was his first time on the turf and he was kind of looking around, wanting to see what was going on. Around the three-eighths he switched to the left (lead) and he started to focus and started running to win the race., said Hernandez.

“He enjoyed it, he was just watching the horse in front of me and just wanted to see everything around him, but he focused, and he started to run by himself, I just let him roll.”

Fractions on the race were 21.06 and 43.36.

A 2-year-old colt by Baffert’s 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern out of the Pioneerof the Nile mare Sophia Mia, Speed Boat Beach was the prohibitive 2-5 favorite in a field of nine and paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.20.

“We filled one of the spots on the plane to Keeneland.  I wasn’t sure if he would like the turf or not.  I told Juan (Hernandez) that if he doesn’t like the turf, raise your right hand.  He hopped at the start of the race.  He was a little green and he kept switching leads.  At the three-eighths pole, he became serious and took off.  This horse has pretty serious speed,” Baffert said.

It was a quick roundtrip to the Runhappy Winner’s Circle for Baffert and owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, as their Midnight Memories took the previous race, the Grade II Zenyatta.

With the Speakeasy winner’s share of $60,000, Speed Boat Beach ran his earnings from two starts to $108,000.

In a game effort, Helladic, trained by Ryan Hanson, was second best, finishing a half length in front of Ah Jeez.  Off at 9-1, Helladic paid $5.80 and $3.80. Ah Jeez, ridden by Abel Cedillo, paid $3.20 to show.

Mike Pegram, owner of Speed Boat Beach, said: “You never know if they’re going to like the turf or not, and (Speed Boat Beach) seemed to handle it alright. Juan’s a pro and I think we’ve got a fast horse! I’m very happy to have gone back-to-back in these last races, and we look forward to seeing him race in the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Turf Sprint).”

Santa Anita Press Release
Photo by Benoit

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