Favored So Brilliant fought hard to get the early lead and never gave it up, taking a field of juveniles all the way in the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) (VIDEO) on Thanksgiving at Hollywood Park.
The son of Medaglia d'Oro remained unbeaten in two starts for trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Prevue for the second time in the last five years and for a record fifth time overall. Martin Garcia was aboard the gray/roan colt and they covered seven furlongs on the Cushion Track in 1:22.96.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher, So Brilliant broke his maiden in his Oct. 22 debut at Santa Anita, also in front-running fashion. He was bred in Kentucky by Stonewall Farm Stallions and is out of the Wekiva Springs mare Merry Me in Spring. He was bought for $300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-year-olds in training 2011.
Garcia rushed So Brilliant out for the early lead, but he had to outfight Hodge and Galex to get it, and he was clocked an opening quarter-mile in :22.94. He still led through half-mile in :46.64 with Hodge continuing to give chase under Martin Pedroza. Galex took a bad step entering the turn and had to be pulled up by Rafael Bejarano. He was later euthanized with injuries to his left front ankle and sesamoids.
So Brilliant led narrowly over Hodge when they cut the corner but methodically increased his advantage when they straightened away. He led by a length at the eighth-pole and his main threat was maiden Brother Francis charging from the outside. But So Brilliant was good enough in winning by a measured half-length.
Brother Francis and Victor Espinoza finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Hodge, who held on gamely for third.
“He’s still learning day to day,’’ Garcia said of the winner. “He has a lot more than he showed today. He’s still a little green.
“He broke in a little bit, but went right on with it. Let me tell you, he’s a good horse. He was doing everything on his own, I didn’t even have to ask him."
So Brilliant, who has earned $87,000 from his two starts, paid $4.80, $3.20, and $2.60. The $2 exacta (6-2) returned $25 and the $1 trifecta (6-2-5) was worth $84.90.
Empire Way, the full brother to 2011 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) winner Royal Delta, finished sixth in his stakes debut after a wide trip.