On paper, the $100,000 Hawthorne Derby looked extremely competitive. It was not.
Speaking Scout, settled in the pocket from the start by jockey Jareth Loveberry, came through on the inside in upper stretch and crushed his eight rivals, winning this 1 1/8-mile grass contest by five lengths.
Hugh Robertson-trained longshots Tonka Warrior and Xavey Dave finished, respectively, second and third, as 7-5 favorite American Mayhem endured a rough trip, checked back to last past the half-mile pole, and finished sixth. Second choice Encourage never got into a rhythm and faded from a stalking position to last.
Speaking Scout had endured plenty of tough luck of his own this season, winning once from his first six starts, but trainer Graham Motion took blinkers off for the Hawthorne Derby and Speaking Scout turned in a career-best performance.
With four horses stacked up across the track in front of him at the five-sixteenths pole, Loveberry waited coolly for a spot to open. Tiring pacesetter Camp David vacated the fence just after turning for home, and Loveberry, his mount full of run, quickly went through the hole, Speaking Scout accelerating nicely and drawing away to the half-furlong pole before Loveberry took his foot off the gas.
Behind splits of 24.18, 50.10, and 1:14.39, Speaking Scout clocked 1:48.80 over firm turf. He paid $11 to win, while 24-1 shot Tonka Warrior returned $18.60 to place.
Motion trains Speaking Scout for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, the current owners having purchased the horse privately following his career debut in July 2021 at Colonial Downs. Speaking Scout, a gelding, is by Mr Speaker out if Miss Scout, by Pleasant Tap. He won for the third time in a dozen starts while Loveberry notched his fourth win from seven races Saturday.