The third time's a charm for The Art Museum.At least that's how it's shaping up for the pacing broodmare. Her third foal is Artspeak, who has started his career with three consecutive wins, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship.
Artspeak, a son of stallion Western Ideal, races in the third of three Nassagaweya Stakes divisions for 2-year-old pacers Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. He heads to Canada off a 2-1/2 length win in 1:50.4 in a conditioned race Aug. 1 at the Meadowlands. No 2-year-old pacer has gone faster this season.
"The mare's been knocking on the door and maybe this is the one that's going to make her a little more prolific,” said Tony Alagna, who trains Artspeak. "It's too early to tell, but he's done everything we asked him to do so far. Now he'll go from the Jersey breds to open company, but he was very good in his last start at the Meadowlands. Saturday night we'll know more.”
Alagna is quite familiar with The Art Museum and her racing-aged offspring. The Art Museum was in the stable of trainer Erv Miller, where Alagna worked prior to starting his own barn, but never made it to the races because of an injury. Yet she made an impression.
"She was a great gaited mare with a great pedigree and I had a feeling at some point she was going to throw something decent,” Alagna said. "The first two foals were close, but not what this one has been. He seems like he'll be the best one the mare's had so far.”
The Art Museum's first foal, the filly Acquavella, at age 2 won a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second in a division of the Reynolds Memorial, but struggled with health issues. Her second foal, the now 3-year-old colt Fort Knox, last season finished second to Luck Be Withyou in a Champlain Stakes division and has earned $65,241.
"Acquavella was meant to be a top filly,” Alagna said. "She had some health problems and never reached her full potential. I thought she was meant to be a really good filly, so I went back the next year and bought Fort Knox. He's a nice horse, but just couldn't go to the next level. Artspeak looks like he's got all the tools to be a top horse.”
Purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale, Artspeak's family also includes 2007 Meadowlands Pace winner Southwind Lynx. Artspeak is owned by co-breeder Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners.
Artspeak is the 4-5 morning line favorite in his division of the Nassagaweya, starting from post eight with driver Scott Zeron. His division includes Battle of Waterloo runner-up Sporting The Look, plus Some Power, Read The Proposal, and Pierce Hanover.
Some Power sold for $270,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale under the name Way Bay Hanover. His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Popcorn Penny and he is a half-brother to stakes-winners Westwardho Hanover and Woodstock Hanover.
Read The Proposal is a full brother to stakes-winners Lucky Bettor, Bettor B Lucky, and Bet On Luck. Pierce Hanover is a full brother to stakes-winner Passmaster Hanover and top open performer Philos Hanover in addition to being a half-brother to stakes-winner Panther Hanover.
Artspeak is among four horses from Alagna's stable competing in the Nassagaweya divisions. Edison -- whose family includes millionaires Delinquent Account, Artiscape, and Western Shore -- is in the first division while Trading Up and Rock On The Hill are in the second split.
For many of the horses in the Nassagaweya, it is either a final prep for the upcoming Metro Pace at Mohawk, or an audition.
"Myron Bell picked (Edison) out of the catalog because he's got a phenomenal pedigree and he's really started to come into himself his last couple starts,” Alagna said, referring to co-owner Brittany Farms' racing manager.
"Rock On The Hill was much improved his last start. I want to give him a shot to see if he's ready to go in the Metro, and if he's not, we'll skip it. But he's a horse on the improve. Trading Up was very sick his last start at The Meadows. He was loaded with mucous. We'll see if he fits in, as well.
"It's a lot better to spend the $1,500 starting fee in the Nassagaweya to see how you fit compared to the starting fee in the Metro.”
The first Nassagaweya division also features Dream Maker Series champion The Wayfaring Man, as well as Late Night, who is a half-brother to millionaire Real Nice, and Asap Hanover, whose family includes multiple Dan Patch Award winner Eternal Camnation. Mohawk hosts a stakes event in Eternal Camnation's honor earlier on Saturday's card.
Battle of Waterloo winner Go Daddy Go is in the second division, which also includes Badix Hanover, who is a full brother to millionaire Big Jim.
Alagna also has three horses in Saturday's Eternal Camnation divisions for 2-year-old female pacers – Bedroomconfessions, Cashaway, and A Plus. In addition, two-time defending Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous is in the preferred pace.--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications