Race of the Week 2017

Brilliant Speed Back On Turf in Saranac

Brilliant Speed, a veteran of the 2011 Triple Crown trail who most recently finished fifth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, will return to turf Sunday afternoon in the 104th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac at Saratoga Race Course.


Owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Tom Albertrani, the son of Dynaformer won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes over the Polytrack at Keeneland on April 11, a victory which propelled him on to the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished seventh. After bypassing the Preakness he turned in his strongest Classic appearance in the Belmont Stakes, finishing a game third over a sloppy track behind Ruler On Ice and Stay Thirsty, winner of the Jim Dandy and the Grade 1 Travers.


“I thought he gave up a little too easily in the Jim Dandy,” Albertrani said of Brilliant Speed. “At the half-mile pole he looked ready to pounce on them, and then he flattened out. He came out of the race extremely well, as if he didn’t really try. It seemed like he didn’t care for the racetrack that day.”


Albertrani has not ruled out future starts on dirt for Brilliant Speed, who broke his maiden on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs, then was second in the $100,000 Dania Beach stakes and placed second in the Hallandale Beach stakes, both on the grass at Gulfstream Park this past winter.


“We want to leave our options open,” Albertrani said. “I thought this was a good spot to bring him back in and I think he could be tough in here.”


John Velazquez, aboard for the Jim Dandy and both of Brilliant Speed’s turf stakes starts at Gulfstream, has the return call aboard the 7-2 morning-line favorite from post position 5 in the 1 1/8-mile Saranac.


Albertrani could be double trouble in the Saranac, as he also will saddle the 5-1 morning-line second-choice, West Point Thoroughbreds’ King Congie, who exits a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby.


The Badge of Silver colt, winner of the Tropical Park Derby at Calder Race Course in January, tangled twice earlier in the year with stablemate Brilliant Speed. Though King Congie crossed the wire first in the Hallandale Beach, he was disqualified and placed third for drifting out in the stretch. In the Blue Grass, he was third, beaten a head by Brilliant Speed and Twinspired, who were noses apart on the wire. King Congie finished seventh in the Preakness.


“That was a tough field [in the Virginia Derby],” said Terry Finley, founder and president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “He’s been pretty consistent all spring and summer, and he’s training well. He’s not a flashy workhorse, he’s kind of a workmanlike horse. We think he’ll show up and give a good account of himself. He’s not a horse that really wows you, but he shows up in the afternoon.”


King Congie will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from post 8.


Trainer Todd Pletcher will also saddle a pair of Saranac entrants with Clement Rock streaking in off three consecutive scores in Canada and Queen’splatekitten coming off a fifth-place effort in his namesake race at Woodbine.


Clement Rock, the 9-2 morning-line third choice in the Saranac, has been in Pletcher’s care for about a month, having been trained by Mark Casse to a maiden victory and two stakes scores on turf at Woodbine. The son of Strong Hope most recently captured the Toronto Cup on July 16, which is run at the Saranac distance.


“Just because of the weather conditions and such, we’ve never had the opportunity to breeze him on the turf,” said Pletcher, who trains Clement Rock for Eugene Melnyk. “Based on his form, that appears to be his preferred surface. We’ll see how this goes. He’s been a very straightforward, professional horse.”


A three-length winner of the Marine Stakes over the Polytrack at Woodbine on May 21, Queen’splatekitten looks to regroup following his fifth-place finish in the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.


“He ran OK in the Queen’s Plate,” said Pletcher. “We didn’t get the kind of trip we were looking for, he was bottled up in between horses, and just finished a bit evenly. It was not a bad effort, but it wasn’t, for whatever reason, as good as his Marine. Based on the way he ran in the Marine we felt we had a big chance to win the Queen’s Plate. We had entered him in the Breeders’ Stakes which is the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, but he just hadn’t rounded into form and it seems like, with the extra time, he’s rounding back into form.”


Clement Rock will leave from post 3 with Eddie Castro, while Corey Nakatani has the call aboard Queen’splatekitten, 8-1, from post 4.


Stepping into graded stakes company for the first time is Stuart Janney, III’s Seal Cove, undefeated on turf and most recently the winner of the Gleaming overnight stakes here on August 8. The son of Strong Hope was carried wide in the 1 3/16-mile Gleaming, which was run over yielding turf in the midst of a downpour.


“I’m pleased with the way he’s done,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “His race up here was a great race, and this one’s going to be going a little farther, which will be no problem. The farther he goes, the better. Every time we’ve asked him to do something else, he’s done it, and I think if he goes over there and runs his race, he’ll be tough.”


Javier Castellano will ride Seal Cove, 6-1 on the morning line, from post 6.


Completing the field for the Saranac from the rail out are Perregaux, second in Saratoga’s Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes on August 12; British-bred Canaveral, second in the Gleaming in his first U.S. start; Chinglish, most recently fifth in Monmouth Park’s Jersey Derby; Moonhanger, third in the Jersey Derby; Sky Blazer, fourth in the Gleaming; Live in Joy, winner of the Capital City stakes at Penn National on July 30 and Pass the Dice, a recent turf allowance winner at Churchill Downs.


The field for the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac Stakes:









Perregaux (KY)

J R Leparoux


N J Howard



Canaveral (GB)

C H Velasquez


D G Donk



Clement Rock (FL)

E Castro


T A Pletcher



Queen'splatekitten (ON)

C S Nakatani


T A Pletcher



Brilliant Speed (FL)

J R Velazquez


T Albertrani



Seal Cove (KY)

J Castellano


C R McGaughey III



Chinglish (KY)

J Lezcano


M A Hennig



King Congie (KY)

R Maragh


T Albertrani



Moonhanger (KY)

J L Castanon


B F Alexander



Sky Blazer (KY)

R A Dominguez


B Tagg



Live in Joy (KY)

R Albarado


W M Catalano



Pass the Dice (KY)

K J Desormeaux


W M Catalano





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Older Comments about Brilliant Speed Back On Turf in Saranac...

Seal Cove looking strong..coming into his own on turf..like the morning line odds.
good move

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