Speaking Wins John J. Reilly Handicap

Speaking is making stakes wins at Monmouth Park a habit.

The 4-year-old gelding was able to sit off the early speed, finally wresting control of the race in mid-stretch, before holding on for a half-length victory in Sunday’s $85,000 John J. Reilly Handicap at Monmouth Park.

Trained by Eddie Owens and ridden by Jairo Rendon, Speaking followed his 2021 victory in the Smoke Glacken Stakes at Monmouth Park and a win in the New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap last year at the Shore track by adding the 40th edition of the John J. Reilly Handicap his list of stakes triumphs.

The son of Mr. Speaker, bred and owned by Holly Crest Farm, sped the six furlongs in 1:10.41. He went off as the even-money favorite in the field of nine Jersey-breds, 3 and up.

“We tried him on the grass his last race (March 10 at Gulfstream Park) because I always wanted to try him on the grass,” said Owens. “He ran better than it looks on paper that race. He had a tough trip against a lot of nice horses. So I think he got something out of that race.

“He has been a good, consistent horse and Monmouth Park is home to him. You can see by his numbers that he loves Monmouth”

Speaking now sports a 5-1-1 line from eight career starts at Monmouth Park and is 4-for-6 at the six-furlong distance.

The 4-year-old gelding was positioned just off the early speed, with No Cents setting the early fractions of 22.25 for the opening quarter and 45.11 to the first half. Coming out of the turn those two separated themselves from the field, with Speaking surging past No Cents in deep stretch. Amatteroftime rallied from far back to get third, a half-length behind No Cents.

“I was a little nervous being in post 10 with all of the speed inside of us and then all the speed on the outside with us,” said Owens. “We were a little wide but he was the best horse.  I’m very pleased with the way he ran. We’ll probably keep him with Jersey-breds for now.”

This marked the first time Rendon had ridden Speaking, who has now won five of 13 career starts – with all of the wins coming at Monmouth Park. Three of his career defeats have come in graded stakes.

“This was the first time I’ve ridden him but I looked at a few of his races to get an idea of what he likes to do,” said Rendon. “He’s an easy horse to ride. He pushes right out of there. He has some tactical early speed that put him in a position to be right outside the speed. That’s where I wanted to be. Then when he needed to go in the stretch he still had enough left.”

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