Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Brilliant Speed splashed five furlongs through the slop in 1:01 1/5 May 2 in his final work before the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. The splits for the 3-year-old son of Dynaformer were :12 3/5, :24 4/5, :36 2/5, and 48 2/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
“He moved well over the track,” said Albertrani, who isn’t sure that Brilliant Speed will be able to handle Churchill’s dirt surface in the Triple Crown’s first leg May 7. “It looked like he went fine. It was a nice work. He galloped out good.”
The trainer described the move as “more of a maintenance work,” then added, “He went as well as I was looking to see him go, so it was a good work.”
Brilliant Speed’s time was the third fastest among the seven workers at five furlongs. The dark bay or brown colt, which has won twice in eight career races, defeated Twinspired by a nose in the April 11 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface.
“It was a deep track that afternoon,” Albertrani said. “Supposedly it (Polytrack) is supposed to be a little firmer (when it is wet) and have a little more bounce to it. But that particular day, a lot of the speed wasn’t holding up. Because of all the rain that they had had, it was a little bit deeper than usual and he ran well over it.”
In his five races on grass so far, Brilliant Speed has finished no worse than third. His efforts include a second in the Dania Beach Stakes and a third in the Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park along with a 1 1/2-length maiden victory at 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs.
Brilliant Speed has raced on dirt only twice, launching his career last summer with a fourth at five furlongs at Belmont Park and seventh at seven furlongs at Saratoga. But, according to Albertrani, the colt is more suited to distance racing, so that might explain why he didn’t do well on the surface.
“We don’t know what (surface) he really prefers,” Albertrani said. “When he ran on the dirt twice, I don’t think we gave him the right circumstances that would have given him every chance to find out if he liked it or not. We think the real reason why he didn’t take to the dirt was because he was sprinting.
“His race in the Blue Grass kind of stands out because he made that transition from the turf to Polytrack,” Albertrani continued. “Whether or not he will make that move forward again on dirt in the Derby we really don’t know. But we’re hoping, trying to be optimistic, that he does.”
Albertrani said “the main reason” he chose the Blue Grass for Brilliant Speed was “we were out of turf races at that point. He had run twice down in Florida (since the beginning of the year) and I wanted to give him a little time. I thought if we were going to try him on something different, the Polytrack might be good because it was a surface in between turf and dirt, and it worked out well.”
Even though Brilliant Speed hasn’t won on dirt, he has “always” trained well over it, Albertrani said. But that can be deceiving because many horses that are turf specialists look good working on the dirt, the trainer explained.
“I’ve galloped them and breezed them myself, and I know there is a difference when you breeze them over the dirt,” Albertrani said. “They’ll work well but they won’t bring it–their ‘A’ game–on the dirt in the afternoon. When I was over in Dubai, we had a lot of turf horses that we ran on the dirt there, and you might get one good race out of them over the surface, but they weren’t always consistent. They might show up one day and run their best race over it and then never reproduce it. We may get that one good race out of him (Brilliant Speed) on dirt this weekend, but we don’t know.”
A rainy Derby Day wouldn’t concern Albertrani.
“He (Brilliant Speed) is bred to like the mud,” he said. “He’s by Dynaformer with Gone West on the dam’s side, so it (the mud) probably won’t hurt him.”