Grade I winner and freshman sire Brilliant Speed was found dead in his paddock at Three Chimneys Farm the evening of July 13, struck down by lightning, according to Chris Baker, chief operating officer for the farm.
"He was found stricken in his paddock," Baker said. "The autopsy confirmed the cause was lightning. We got hit by a freak storm that came up. It wasn't in the forecast of the any of the several resources we use to monitor the weather."
Brilliant Speed was a son of Dynaformer, who was a perennial leading sire and hallmark stallion at Three Chimneys, near Midway, Ky. Dynaformer died at age 27 in 2012 shortly after suffering an aortic valve rupture.
"Brilliant Speed was a class horse in the form of Dynaformer," Baker said. "We had high hopes for his progeny, which you would have expected to get better with age. You know the best lies ahead."
The 8-year-old stallion was a homebred raced by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. Out of the Gone West mare Speed Succeeds, Brilliant Speed won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 3. Throughout his racing career, he placed in the Belmont Stakes, Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf, Jamaica Handicap, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes, and the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (all grade I). He retired with just more than $1.2 million in earnings.
Brilliant Speed was syndicated when he entered stud in 2013, with Three Chimneys the majority shareholder and Live Oak retaining an interest. He stood at Three Chimneys for $5,000.