A year after he was disappointed by the results of Keeneland's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), trainer Tom Albertrani is heading for the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Brilliant Speed , winner of the $750,000 event April 16.
Albertrani thought he was on a similar path in 2010 with Odysseus, only to see his top prospect finish last and forced to retire with a bone chip in his left knee.
But Albertrani can think about the Derby once again with Live Oak Plantation’s Brilliant Speed, who came from last place in the field of 12 to nip Twinspired by a nose on Keeneland's Polytrack at 19-1 odds. Albertrani also saddled third-place finisher King Congie, who was a head behind Twinspired in a blanket finish.
“Last year we were a little disappointed,” Albertrani said a day after the 2011 Blue Grass. “Some horses take to the Polytrack and some don’t. We thought these two (horses) would make the transition to Polytrack. The transition from Polytrack to dirt remains to be seen.”
Albertrani said a decision would be made in the next couple of days by owner Charlotte Weber on when Brilliant Speed would ship to Churchill Downs for the $2 million Derby.
“We would probably go over a week before and have one breeze over the track,” he said.
Brilliant Speed began his career with two off-the-board finishes on dirt last summer at Belmont Park and Saratoga. Five consecutive turf races came prior to the Toyota Blue Grass.
“He trained well on the dirt at Palm Meadows,” Albertrani said. “I remember when I galloped (champion grass horse) Paradise Creek, he’d go a half in :46 or :47 on dirt but seldom repeat that in a race on dirt. The same thing happened when I was in Dubai. Occasionally they would run a good race, but they were not consistent. It might just be the right day for them.”
Plans for West Point Thoroughbreds’ King Congie are indefinite.
“We talked after the race and we might give the Preakness (gr. I) a try,” Albertrani said. “We have a lot of options with him, things like the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) and the Secretariat (gr. I).”
Tom R. Walter’s Santiva , the 2-1 favorite, finished ninth in the Blue Grass after breaking from post 3.
“A bad trip,” groused trainer Eddie Kenneally. "Down on the inside, no running room.”
Kenneally said the Giant's Causeway colt will relocate to Churchill Downs later in the week. Santiva has $242,397 in graded stakes earnings, placing him unofficially in 21st position on the list of possible starters for the Kentucky Derby.