Keeneland's Maker's Mark Mile Results and Payouts for 4/15/22

Shirl's Speight wins the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland. (Coady Photography)
Maker's Mark Mile ResultsPayoffs - Win Place Show
1Shirl's Speight - $20.00; $9.00; $5.00
2Masen (GB) - $4.00; $3.00
3Smooth Like Strait - $2.80

Shirl's Speight Rallies to Victory in Maker's Mark Mile

Roger Attfield’s Hall of Fame eyes were telling him one thing.

As he watched his protege Shirl’s Speight train in the weeks leading up to the $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland, the legendary conditioner felt emboldened that the son of Speightstown stood a better than solid chance of becoming the latest member of his family to add top-level accolades to his resume. When the morning-line was for the eight-furlong contest was revealed, however, Attfield had a moment when he wondered if even his astute mind wasn't delusional in his thinking.

“I was very confident. I was very high on him coming into the race,” the affable trainer said. “Then when I saw him at 50-1 I thought, ‘Well I must be wrong’.”

There is a reason Attfield’s skillset is enshrined among the best ever in North America, and it is because he is among the sharpest when it comes to assessing horseflesh. Sure enough, Shirl’s Speight made an honest man out of his trainer on April 15 when the he outran his program odds by uncorking a wicked surge in the lane to nail Masen (GB) at the wire and win the Maker’s Mark Mile by a nose.

Success at the highest ranks is something Shirl’s Speight has teased of since the 5-year-old bay horse won his first two career starts in handy fashion, including a victory in the Marine Stakes (G3) at Woodbine in July 2020. A suspensory issue sent him to the sidelines for nearly nine months last season but this year has seen the Charles Fipke homebred get back to his best form with wins in an allowance optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 15 and the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) on Feb. 5.

Though he was the longest shot on the morning line when entries for the Maker’s Mark were taken, Shirl’s Speight had shown Attfield in the Tampa Bay Stakes he could make a run from well back, a tactic that served him well when he rated seventh while Smooth Like Strait led the eight-horse field through early fractions of :24.95 and :49.63 over a course rated good Friday.

“I was more worried all week about the going…but he got to run the way I wanted him to run today,” Attfield said. “(Jockey) Luis (Saez) gave him a fantastic ride and it all turned out well. The Tampa race convinced me he needed to come from off the pace and use that quarter-mile kick. He was shut off and came with one big run, and I realized that’s probably the way this horse really wants to run.

“It looked like there was some legitimate pace in the race (today) and I thought he’d be fine back there.”

Smooth Like Strait had the Chad Brown-trained Masen – who was making his North American debut - tracking second just off his flank down the backside and those two hit the quarter pole in tandem after six furlongs in 1:13.38. Though Masen eventually gained the upper hand at the eighth pole, Shirl’s Speight was flying on the far outside under Saez, getting up in the last jump to reward those who backed him at odds of 9-1.

Final time for the distance was 1:35.93. Smooth Like Strait held for third, just a neck behind Masen.

“He really took off when he came to the top of the stretch,” Saez said. “Those horses on the lead were running pretty hard, but he came right there at the right moment. So, it was great.”

Added Garrett O’Rourke, manager of Juddmonte Farms’, which owns Masen, “We kicked past the horse we thought we had to beat (Smooth Like Strait) and just got nailed. The best horse won on the day but, we’ll be very happy looking forward to a nice year with this guy. He still has to learn to relax a little bit more and have a little bit more kick to the finish of his races but I think we know what big race we’ll be pointing to at the end of the year.”

Out of 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner Perfect Shirl, Shirl’s Speight notched his fifth win from nine career starts and improved his bankroll to $566,665.

The victory was Attfield’s third in the race following Shudanz in 1992 and Perfect Soul (IRE) in 2004. Perfect Soul is the broodmare sire of Shirl’s Speight.

“It’s an interesting family because they’ve all got their own opinions on life. This horse is an exception,” said Attfield, who also trained Perfect Shirl. “He’s quite easy to train this horse. The others are all very tricky. They definitely have a lot of attitude. Perfect Shirl herself was an absolute nightmare as a 2-year-old and….everything she has produced has had an attitude also. I like that. I like to see if I can get inside a horse’s head. They’re all different. That I like more than anything else.”

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