Last year after the Blue Grass (G1), trainer Tom Albertrani was perplexed with the last-place showing of Odysseus in the race. A few days later, Albertrani had his answer as Odysseus sustained a bone chip in the back of his left knee in the race.
Fast forward a year, and Albertrani is thinking Kentucky Derby (G1) with Live Oak Plantation's BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer), who came from last place in the field of 12 to nip TWINSPIRED (Harlan's Holiday) by a nose in the 87th running of the $750,000 race. Albertrani also saddled third-place finisher KING CONGIE (Badge of Silver), who was a head behind Twinspired.
"Last year we were a little disappointed," Albertrani said. "Some horses take to the Polytrack and some don't. We thought these two (horses) would make the transition to Polytrack. The transition from Polytrack to dirt remains to be seen."
Brilliant Speed began his career with two off-the-board finishes on dirt last summer at Belmont Park and Saratoga. Five consecutive turf races came prior to the Blue Grass.
"He trained well on the dirt at Palm Meadows," Albertrani said. "I remember when I galloped (champion grass horse) Paradise Creek, he'd go a half in :46 or :47 on dirt but seldom repeat that in a race on dirt. The same thing happened when I was in Dubai. Occasionally they would run a good race, but they were not consistent. It might just be the right day for them."
Albertrani said a decision would be made in the next couple of days regarding when Brilliant Speed would ship to Churchill Downs for the $2 million Kentucky Derby.
"That's up to (owner) Mrs. (Charlotte) Weber," Albertrani said. "We would probably go over a week before and have one breeze over the track."
Plans for West Point Thoroughbreds' King Congie are indefinite.
"We talked after the race and we might give the Preakness (G1) a try," Albertrani said, noting the colt had not been nominated to the $200,000 American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 6. "We have a lot of options with him, things like the Virginia Derby (G2) and the Secretariat (G1)."
James S. Karp's homebred NEWSDAD (Arch) was fine the morning after he rallied to finish fourth, within 1 1/2 lengths of Brilliant Speed in his Polytrack debut, trainer Bill Mott said.
"He had kind of a troubled trip," Mott said of the colt, who was ridden by Jesus Castanon. "He might have won it with a perfect trip."
Mott said he was not sure what Newsdad's next race might be. The colt, who had made his three previous starts on grass, is the only horse that competed in the Blue Grass that is not nominated to the Triple Crown.
Dave Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, said that Team Valor International's CRIMSON CHINA (Giant's Causeway) came out of his fifth-place effort in good order.
Even though Crimson China failed to earn a Kentucky Derby spot, Team Valor and Motion have another candidate in Spiral (G3) winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]), who worked five furlongs here Saturday morning in :59 1/5.
"Everybody was happy with the works yesterday," said Rock, about the moves that included a 1:00 2/5 work by Team Valor's Kentucky Oaks (G1) hopeful, Summer Soiree (War Front). "Depending on the weather, both of them probably will go to Churchill Downs on Thursday, gallop Friday and work on Saturday."
Trainer Mike Stidham was lamenting a rough trip for All In Stable's WILLCOX INN (Harlan's Holiday) in his eighth-place finish.
"He had a rough trip and was stuck inside," Stidham said. "But if he had a significant move, he would have made it, but he didn't. In his good races, he has been back further and put in a sustained run. Yesterday, he didn't."
Stidham agonized through the race as Willcox Inn was caught in traffic for practically the entire trip.
"I noticed one time about the 4 1/2 (furlong) pole that (jockey) Rosie (Napravnik) practically stood up on him," Stidham said. "The race as it unfolded reminded me of the Derby where the horses get all jammed up on the inside with no place to go and a horse comes up on the outside, loops the field and runs by them all."
Stidham said Willcox Inn would be pointed to the Mid-America Triple series at Arlington Park that begins with the Arlington Classic on May 28, continues with the American Derby (G2) on July 9 and concludes with the Secretariat on August 13.
"The timing is good and we are stabled there," Stidham said.
"A bad trip," trainer Eddie Kenneally said about the performance turned in by Tom R. Walter's SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway), the 2-1 favorite who finished ninth. Santiva broke from post 3. "Down on the inside, no running room," he added.
Kenneally said the colt will relocate to Churchill Downs later in the week. Santiva has $242,397 in graded stakes earnings, placing him unofficially in 21st position on the list of possible starters for the Kentucky Derby.