Live Oak Plantation's homebred BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer) caught Twinspired (Harlan's Holiday) in the final jump of Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race by a nose. It was a tough beat for the runner-up, who looked headed for victory when surging to a 1 1/2-length lead in midstretch, but Brilliant Speed stormed down the outside to nab his first stakes victory, closing last to first under the guidance of new rider Joel Rosario. Trainer Tom Albertrani was also responsible for third-placer King Congie (Badge of Silver).
"I was just glad to win a photo for a change," Albertrani said. "I've been beaten in a lot of photos lately. He ran great.
"I saw him far back, and I thought maybe he doesn't handle the track. I saw him coming down the lane, and he was just making big strides."
Brilliant Speed had only a maiden special weight win to his credit and made a successful switch to Polytrack following five straight attempts on turf. He broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs three back on December 26 and made his next two starts versus stakes rivals at Gulfstream Park, recording a nose runner-up in the January 16 Dania Beach and before crossing the finish line a troubled third (elevated to second by the stewards) in the February 6 Hallandale Beach. He returned from a 69-day layoff in the Blue Grass.
By virtue of the $450,000 payday, Brilliant Speed ensured a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate and helped eased the disappointment of his owner, Mrs. Charlotte C. Weber, who recently lost To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) from consideration due to injury.
The dark bay colt, who was unplaced in two previous dirt starts, improved his overall ledger to 8-2-2-2, $515,750.
Joes Blazing Aaron (Graeme Hall) moved forward to take the lead at the start and established a moderate tempo in :25, :50 1/5 and 1:14 3/5 with about a one-length advantage. Twinspired was along the rail, a couple of lengths back of the pacesetter in third, for the run down the backstretch and launched his move after three-quarters of a mile. Brilliant Speed dropped to the back of the pack after the break and remained at the rear until near the conclusion of the final turn.
Twinspired pounced after turning for home, darting past a weakening Joes Blazing Aaron, and passed the mile mark in 1:38 3/5. King Congie, who rated well off the pace in the early stages, was the first to rally into contention in deep stretch but could not draw even with Twinspired. However, Brilliant Speed was full of momentum in the final furlong and got up in the nick of time, finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 4/5.
"He broke well and I found myself in behind," Rosario said. "I just let him relax and make a big run on the outside."
Jockey Robby Albarado missed by the slimmest of margins aboard Twinspired.
"I had a great trip, nice rail trip," Albarado noted. "At the three-eighths pole, I got out about where I wanted to be. I called on him, and he gave me what he had to the wire. It was unfortunate he came on the losing end of it."
Albertrani was asked about watching his two horses in the race.
"I saw them both coming, and I thought they were going to be in a dead-heat for a moment," Albertrani commented. "They both ran terrific. (Brilliant Speed) just got the nose down."
Brilliant Speed was the 19-1 ninth choice among 12 rivals and paid $40.20, $20.80 and $13. Twinspired, who was dismissed at 24-1, secured second by a head over the 13-1 King Congie, who had defeated Brilliant Speed in the aforementioned Hallandale Beach. It was a length back to Newsdad (Arch), who capped the whopping $129,093.60 superfecta (5-7-2-1) at 17-1.
Crimson China (Giant's Causeway), the 5-1 second choice, came next in fifth and was followed by Joes Blazing Aaron, Queen'splatekitten (Kitten's Joy) and Willcox Inn (Harlan's Holiday). Grade 2 winner Santiva (Giant's Causeway), the strong 2-1 favorite, was never a threat and wound up ninth. Wilkinson (Lemon Drop Kid), Praetereo (Giant's Causeway) and Sensational Slam (Grand Slam) rounded out the order of finish.
Bred in Florida, Brilliant Speed is out of the unraced Gone West mare Speed Succeeds, who is also the dam of the juvenile colt Souper Speedy (Indian Charlie). The mare is out of stakes winner and Grade 1-placed Daijin (Deputy Minister), which makes her a half-sibling to Canadian champion older female Serenading and multiple stakes queen Handpainted, both by A.P. Indy. Brilliant Speed's third maternal dam, the stakes-winning Passing Mood (Buckpasser), is famously known for producing Belmont (G1) and Haskell (G1) winner Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) and Canadian Horse of the Year With Approval (Caro [Ire]), both respectable sires.