Brilliant Speed, third in last year’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at 1 1/2 miles, cuts back to a mile for the Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park March 31 as he takes on seven rivals. The 4-year-old Dynaformer colt, trained by Tom Albertrani, will be making his first start since the BC Turf last November.
The Appleton, for 4-year-olds and up, is the eighth race on Saturday’s card and is scheduled to go off at 3:55 p.m. EDT. All runners will carry 117 pounds.
Brilliant Speed, third in last year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and unplaced in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is the sole grade I winner in the field, but that effort in last year’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes came over a synthetic surface. Brilliant Speed has run eight times on turf and has finished in the top three in all eight including a triumph in last year’s Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga Race Course. He has raced twice over Gulfstream’s turf course and sports placings in last year’s Dania Beach Stakes and the Hallandale Beach Stakes. John Velazquez is scheduled to ride for the fifth straight time.
Street Game, the only other graded stakes winner in the field, won the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park by 7 1/4 lengths last June. The Street Cry colt trained by Phil Serpe has been out once this year and sports a victory in an optional claimer at a mile on turf at Gulfstream Feb. 5.
Two others in the field—El Commodore and Trend—enter the Appleton following close runner-up efforts in graded stakes in Florida this year. El Commodore, a son of El Prado trained by Gregory Griffith, was beaten a nose in the Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 25. He had opened the year at Tampa Bay Downs with a quick mile score of 1:34.74 on the grass.
Trend, a son of Sligo Bay trained by Mark Frostad, won at a mile on grass and then was beaten three-quarters of the length in the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 12, both at Gulfstream.
Decisive Moment and Beau Choix were stakes winner last year. Decisive Moment, who will be making his grass debut, won three stakes last year including the $250,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes. The son of With Distinction trained by Juan Arias has been out twice this year, both times in graded events at Gulfstream, without hitting the board.
Beau Choix’s grass score in 2011 came in the Rob ‘n Gin Stakes last July at Belmont. In his last start, the son of Elusive Quality finished fifth in the Canadian Turf. Barclay Tagg trains.
Rounding out the field are Monument Hill, who twice was stakes-placed on grass last year and has two turf wins at a mile at Gulfstream this year, and Corporate Jungle, who won a mile turf race against allowance company at Gulfstream in mid-February last time out.
$100,000 Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 3:55 p.m.) 4 & Up, One Mile (Turf)
Post. Horse Jockey Trainer
1. Monument Hill, R Maragh, G Weaver
2 Corporate Jungle, J Castellano, C Brown
3 Street Game, R Curatolo, P Serpe
4 Brilliant Speed, J Velazquez, T Albertrani
5. El Commodore, D Coa, G Griffith,
6. Decisive Moment, S Madrid, J Arias
7. Beau Choix, E Prado, B Tagg
8. Trend, J Leparoux, M Frostad
All carry 117 pounds