Warren Miller, co-owner of Freedom Speaks, expected his 3-year-old filly to run well. Really win? It wasn’t something he understood.
But there was Freedom Speaks, rocked by Happy Soul in the lead to win 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 would run well, I just didn’t think she would run this well,” said Miller, owner of Freedom Speaks with Carol Reitman. “You never expect to win. We were patient and spaced out her runs. He paused and added, ‘I just can’t believe she won.’
Freedom Speaks, trained by Jeremiah Englehart, and jockey Jose Lezcano settled for fourth or fifth, 1 1/2 or two lengths off the pace in the first half mile. Meanwhile, Happy Soul set fast first splits of 21.63 seconds and 44.78 under Irad Ortiz. After waiting for the race hall in the upper stretch and splitting the horses, Freedom Speaks was still 1 1/2 head lengths away as Happy Soul passed the furlong marker in 1:08.95. These two were all on the edge as Freedom Speaks rose to victory in the final strides while clocking 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.35.
Coach Jeremiah Englehart, who was sent Freedom Speaks after his first two career starts in the spring, watched the race with his family at his home in Saratoga Springs, NY
“In the turn, it looked like after she was coming down the hill, maybe she was out of the bridle,” he said over the phone. “I was a little worried, but I saw Jose looking for a place to go and that gave me a good feeling for the rest of the way. The rest was her and him.
Lezcano said: “It’s a great game. I am very happy that Jeremiah and the owner gave me the opportunity to ride this filly. I think she is a very beautiful filly. I had a very good trip. I had never ridden it before and watched the replays. She broke really well and when I asked her the other filly went on but she kept finding and finding and finding. She wasn’t going to get beat up. I watched the (two) races she won. He is a horse with heart. I just wanted to give him the best chance to win and stay away.
Happy Soul, a 15-1 shot, triggered a $275.34 win for the $2 exacta, with the $1 trifecta bringing in $1,325.64.
Work finished third, beaten by 2 1/4 lengths, after being eighth after the first half mile. Static Fire was only a neck behind to place fourth. Next to cross 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 have been scratched.
Freedom Speaks paid $12.56 to win as the second choice in the capacity area of twelve 3-year-old fillies. She’s now 2-for-2 on the turf and for Englehart, including winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance run at Saratoga.
Freedom Speaks was bought for $145,000 in the 2022 OBS Winter Mixed Sale after a very fast three-eighths mile breeze. Coach Ronald Spatz had Freedom Speaks for his first two career runs: a first six-length triumph on the synthetic surface at Gulfstream Park on May 12 and a second-place finish in a $75,000 Gulfstream entry on June 18. In the filly’s first start for the New York-based Englehart, she won a grass allowance sprint at Saratoga.
“Ron Spatz, accomplished rider, groomed her and we sent her to Jeremiah in Saratoga to get her out of South Florida for the summer,” Miller said. “Heather Coots, the assistant coach, was on her the whole time. She has just blossomed. She came out of Saratoga’s van absolutely perfect. The groom has come down from Saratoga and Heather is giving him some sweet potatoes. She loves sweet potatoes, and the rest is history. She just kept getting better and better and better.
Englehart said: “Watching her break her maiden on synthetic, I thought the most impressive part was the last sixteenth of a mile. Heather Coots worked it on the grass and she said it suited her just fine. I thought the race in Saratoga was a salty little place.
Freedom Speaks, a Kentucky daughter of American Freedom, is now 3-1-0 in four starts, earning $392,350 with the salary of $288,300.
He was Englehart’s first starter at Kentucky Downs.
“I had this race on the schedule and it was something I was aiming for even before the allocation to Saratoga,” he said. “Heather gave me confidence when she said she thought he came out of the race better than she came into it.
“I was really excited about it. My wife and kids, we were all watching it. Look what they did there (with scholarships). It just got better and better. It’s like winning a race at Saratoga. Very exciting.”
Kentucky Downs press release
Photo: Gray Freedom Speaks, starring Jose Lezcano, edged out Happy Soul in the $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey Music City Stakes. (Coady Photography)