Horse racing: Brilliant Speed could turn out to be major player

It wasn’t a work that leaps off the page at you.

Brilliant Speed went 51.57 for four furlong


It wasn’t a work that leaps off the page at you.

Brilliant Speed went 51.57 for four furlongs on the Belmont Park main track, the 53rd fastest of 59 breezes at that distance on Monday.

Take it for what it’s worth, though: a sign of life.

The male 3-year-old division is in a shambles due to injuries, but Brilliant Speed is one colt who has survived the wreckage and can gain some footing in his next start, which will be the Jim Dandy at Saratoga Race Course on July 30.

Brilliant Speed’s breeze on Monday was his first published work since finishing third to Ruler On Ice in the Belmont Stakes, after having finished seventh to Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby by less than seven lengths.

His breeding hollers “turf”, as he’s by Dynaformer, who was the leading grass sire in North America for the fifth time in the last 10 years last year, and Brilliant Speed still has just one career win on conventional dirt, when he broke his maiden at Tampa Bay in his fifth try on Dec. 26.

He was seventh to Curlinello at Saratoga last year.

Still, the Live Oak homebred Brilliant Speed’s exploits on the Triple Crown trail lead his connections to believe that he’s well suited to hit the Saratoga graded-stakes schedule running.

“You can’t really fault him for his last two races on dirt,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “The Derby was very encouraging, and he was only five lengths back. Then he handled the wet track in the Belmont. We have confidence that he can handle any kind of track.”

Albertrani’s 3-year-olds haven’t been immune to attrition.

Arthur’s Tale, who was a neck behind Toby’s Corner in the Wood Memorial, is still on the shelf.

Brilliant Speed weathered the Derby and Belmont just fine, and will begin cranking it up in his breezes soon.

“We just let him run an easy half,” Albertrani said. “He’s been knocking on the door, and he wasn’t beaten by much in either race. He looks like he’s improving in every race.

“I can’t recall a year like this in the last 30 years. Now, you’ve got a lot of them who have been on the sideline who are coming back, like Uncle Mo, although I don’t know if they’re going to be able to get him ready in time for Saratoga. Shack­leford and Ruler On Ice are the only ones who have been healthy. It’s been an odd year.”


Uncle Mo, the 2010 2-year-old champion who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby the day before the race, arrived at trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn on the Oklahoma training track on Monday afternoon, along with stablemate R Heat Lightning.

He spent two months at WinStar Farm in Kentucky recovering from cholangiohepatitis, an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts.

“He looked great,” Pletcher assistant Whit Beckman told the New York Racing Association. “I hadn’t seen him since April when he was shipped to Kentucky for the Derby. Then, he was a little skinny. Now, he looks 10 times better. He was walking great around here. He

noticed people were looking at him. so he put up his ears, turned his head and gave them a pose.”

Uncle Mo has been galloping at WinStar.

Pletcher told the NYRA that the Grade I King’s Bishop on Travers Day, Aug. 27, is “do-able” for Uncle Mo, who broke his maiden at Sar­atoga on Travers Day last year, but “we don’t need any hiccups along the way.”

“He left Churchill a very fit horse; he just wasn’t completely healthy,” Pletcher said. “He got ready very quickly after he came back from the Breeders’ Cup and won the Timely Writer off six breezes. We’re in a position to get close to that, if we want to.”

R Heat Lightning, one of the leading 3-year-old fillies in the country before getting a chip removed from her knee, likely will be a little slower coming back than Uncle Mo.


As part of its efforts to bring the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in line with other major global racing events, Breeders’ Cup Limited will develop protocols in the next two years to eliminate race-day medications in BC races.

The first step will be to ban race-day medication in 2-year-old races at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, the site of which has yet to be determined.

The policy is expected to be in place for all BC races in 2013.

“Given the high level of inter­national participation in our Championships and the increasing support for our nominations programs throughout the global thoroughbred breeding and racing community, Breeders’ Cup feels strongly that the time has come to modify our medication policies to be consistent with international practices,” Breeders’ Cup chairman Tom Ludt said in a release.

Breeders’ Cup’s new inte­rnational nomination programs raised more than $3.5 million in revenue for the organization in the first half of the year.


The much-anticipated rematch between Havre de Grace and Blind Luck will occur today in the Grade II Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park, with Life At Ten thrown in to spice it up a little more, although she’s winless in three 2011 starts since her controversial Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.

Life At Ten won the Delaware Handicap last year for her sixth straight victory.

Blind Luck, the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award winner in 2010, beat Havre de Grace by a neck in the Alabama at Saratoga, then Havre de Grace turned the tables by a neck in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion prior to the BC Ladies’ Classic. Blind Luck and Havre de Grace were second and third, respectively, to Unrivaled Belle in that race.

This year, they’ve each raced three times and faced each other once, a 31⁄4-length win by Havre de Grace in the Azeri to open the season.

Since then, Havre de Grace has won the Apple Blossom and Obeah.

Blind Luck has been first by a half-length twice, in the La Troienne and Vanity, where she beat Unrivaled Belle.

“Hopefully, we can put on a good show for the fans,” Blind Luck’s trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

Havre de Grace is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the Delaware Handicap, and Blind Luck is 7-5.


The second leg of the Big Apple Triple will take place at Finger Lakes, in the $150,000 New York Derby. Preachinatthedevil is 6-5 off his win in the first leg, the Mike Lee at Belmont.

The third leg is the Albany at Saratoga.

Only Tin Cup Chalice has won the Big Apple Triple, which offers a $250,000 bonus to the winner of all three legs.

The field for the New York Derby includes Sky Music (5-1), owned in part by Tom Sanford of Saratoga Springs through Dogwood Stable.

Mechanicville native Chad Brown has Casino Host in a tough spot in the 12-horse Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, where Casino Host is 20-1 off a fifth in the Hill Prince.

Banned is the 5-2 favorite off two straight graded-stakes wins at Churchill Downs.

Also on the card, Excited, who broke her maiden first time out at Saratoga last year, is 8-5 breaking outside of seven rivals in the Grade III Virginia Oaks.

Gantry is 8-5 in the final graded stakes of the Belmont spring/summer meet, the Grade III Jaipur at seven furlongs on the turf.

He set a Belmont six-furlong inner turf course record three weeks ago in an allowance optional claimer.

The second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales, will be held Sunday at Fort Erie, without the winner of the first leg, the filly Inglorious, who is pointing toward the Alabama instead.

That leaves the Mark Casse-trained Hippolytus, second to Inglorious in the Queen’s Plate, as the 2-1 favorite against six rivals who include Bowman’s Causeway, making his third start for Brown.

Hippolytus was 61-1 in the Queen’s Plate.

“We were second to her [Inglor­ious] in the Woodbine Oaks, and we were second to her in the Queen’s Plate, so we’re sick of hearing about her,” Casse said with a laugh.


Full-time Saratoga Springs res­ident Tizway, who nearly broke a track record in the Grade I Met Mile at Belmont Park in May, continues to work steadily toward his next start, the Grade I Whitney on Aug. 6.

He breezed six furlongs in 1:14.42 on the Oklahoma on Thursday.

“Fast. He’s doing great. He went very well,” trainer James Bond said on Friday morning. “That’s [Whitney] the direction we’re pointing.”

Except for the winter, Tizway has been in Saratoga at Bond’s

private stable on Gridley Avenue since last year, when he was pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, only to finish fifth to Dakota Phone.

He was third against a loaded field in the $1 million Charles Town Classic, then ripped up the Met Mile in 1:32.90, 66-hundredths of a second off the track record set by Najran in 2003.

“The last one was pretty spectacular, I would say,” Bond said. “You run that fast, there’s not that many horses in the world that have ever run that fast.

“The Charles Town race was a bad racetrack, tight turns, the whole nine yards. But it was a good race. Considering he was basically falling down and only got beat a couple of lengths by those kinds of horses, it’s not a bad race.”

The Whitney is shaping up to be one of the best races of the meet, which begins on Friday.

Besides Tizway, others who are being pointed toward the Whitney are Rail Trip, Sidney’s Candy and Grade I Stephen Foster winner Pool Play, who arrived at Casse’s barn on the backstretch this week.


Besides the usual suspects, some new faces will be joining the jockey colony at Saratoga.

Among them will be Manoel Cruz, who finished fifth in the just-concluded Churchill Downs meet, and Corey Nakatani.

Nakatani, a West Coaster, has been based in Chicago recently and will be represented by Fred Aime, who also holds the book for Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux.

John Velazquez edged Ramon Dominguez for the Saratoga title last year.

Besides those two, the regular NYRA jockeys expected at Sar­atoga are Javier Castellano, Eddie Castro, David Cohen, Jose Espin­oza, Alan Garcia, Channing Hill, Jose Lezcano, Mike Luzzi, Rajiv Maragh, Edgar Prado, Jaime Rodriguez, Alex Solis, Maylan Studart and Cornelio Velasquez.

The top New York apprentices are Ryan Curatolo and Irad Ortiz, Jr.

“It’s a tough meet for everyone,” Velazquez told NYRA. “At Sar­atoga, everyone wants to win. When you have New York jockeys like Cornelio Velasquez and Ramon Dominguez, it’s tough. Plus, you have the top riders coming in from Kentucky, so it’s even harder.”

Eight of the top 11 jockeys at Churchill this spring/summer will be moving their tack to the Spa, headed by meet leader Julien Leparoux and Shaun Bridgmohan. Desormeaux, Miguel Mena, Jesus Castanon, Robby Albarado and Frederic Lenclud will also be at Saratoga.


Eclipse Award winners Dominguez and Pletcher and New York Racing Association president Charlie Hayward and director of racing P.J. Campo will participate in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s annual Saratoga Preview panel discussion at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the museum’s Hall of Fame Gallery. The program is free and open to the public.

The Saratoga Preview looks toward the upcoming Saratoga meet. The panel discussion is driven by questions from the audience.


Celebrity chef and thoroughbred owner Bobby Flay will deliver the keynote address at the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday, Aug. 12 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

Flay’s More Than Real won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year, and on July 4, Flay won his first Grade I when Her Smile took the Prioress at Belmont Park.

The Hall of Fame class includes horses Duke of Magenta, Open Mind, Safely Kept, and Sky Beauty; jockey Shelby “Pike” Barnes; and trainers Matthew Byrnes and Hollendorfer.


Trainer Christophe Clement said that multiple champion Gio Ponti’s next start will probably be the Aug. 13 Arlington Million.

The 6-year-old was second to Cape Blanco in the Man o’ War last Saturday, failing in his attempt to win that race three years in a row.

He is 11-9-1 from 26 career starts for just shy of $5.5 million in purses.

“It’s tough to pass on the Million,” Clement said. “The fall is obvious. I will be in the Shadwell Turf Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Mile. What do I do between then and now? At the moment, I will train him for the Million, and keep all our options open.”


On Thursday, fans will be able to get autographs from Velazquez, Dominguez and Castellano at the 95 Weibel Avenue Hannaford

supermarket in Saratoga Springs from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

The 2011 jockey autograph book will be available with a voluntary contribution to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF)

Following the autograph session, fans are invited to attend a family BBQ outside Hannaford’s storefront from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Golden tickets will be hidden in 20 jockey books, each of which will entitle the holder and three companions to a complimentary breakfast with the jockeys at Sar­atoga Race Course on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Autograph books will be available at the customer service desk of participating Hannaford stores with a voluntary contribution to benefit the PDJF.

In addition, the books will be distributed randomly to fans at Sar­atoga Race Course each Thursday of the meet and will be available at the Saratoga Style vendor tent on Thursdays, where Hannaford will feature interactive games, prizes and giveaways.

Racing fans will also have the opportunity to purchase official Sar­atoga Race Course merchandise at Hannaford stores. Available now through Labor Day, Hannaford will exclusively feature the following merchandise: Saratoga Race Course red and white baseball caps and

visors, stainless steel travel mugs and water bottles.

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