By Jackie Duke
He has an ambitious name, but it's one that trainer Tom Albertrani says he likes. And if Brilliant Speed can put it all together in the Emirate Airlines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), his name will seem nothing if not well chosen.
The 3-year-old son of Dynaformer has shown versatility in 13 career starts if only finding the winner's circle three times. He has run on three different surfaces with victories in a maiden turf race at Tampa, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) over Polytrack, and on the grass in the Saranac (gr. IIIT). Brilliant Speed also contested two of the Triple Crown races, finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after a very wide trip and a good third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Brilliant Speed's return to turf occurred after his disappointing fifth in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II). "He flattened out like a typical Turf horse running on dirt will," Albertrani said.
The trainer initially focused on a turf career for the Live Oak Stud homebred after Brilliant Speed failed to improve in his second start on dirt as a juvenile. "He didn't progress enough for me to consider putting him back on dirt," Albertrani said.
It took three maiden turf attempts for Brilliant Speed to record a win, then he opened his 3-year-old campaign by placing second and then third in a pair of $100,000 turf stakes races at Gulfstream Park.
Overlooked in the Blue Grass, Brilliant Speed persevered to win by the narrowest of margins and return $40.20.
Brilliant Speed is "up against it" in the Turf, Albertrani conceded, taking on older horses, including seasoned European veterans such as The Aga Khan's Sarafina who is favored in the field of nine.
But Brilliant Speed, who finished second in his most recent start, the Oct. 8 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT), "has never looked better. He's never trained better," according to Albertani, who is saddling his fourth Breeders' Cup starter. His best Cup showing came in 2006 when Bernardini , the eventual 3-year-old champion, finished second to Invasor in the Classic (gr. I).
An aggressive work horse with a lot of scope, Brilliant Speed should not have a problem with the 12 furlongs of the Turf, the trainer said. "His fitness level isn't something I'm concerned about."
A good showing in the Turf would bring Brilliant Speed's 2011 season to a satisfying close, with much to anticipate next year. "There's a lot of maturity still to look forward to," Albertrani added.