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Breeders' Cup 2017

Brilliant Speed Needs Pace Help in Manhattan

Brilliant Speed (no. 5), ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Thomas Albertrani, wins the 87th running of the grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes for three year olds on April 16, 2011 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)
With six Grade 1 races under his belt, Live Oak Plantation’s Brilliant Speed is no stranger to top-flight competition. After a victory last year in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and a third in the Belmont Stakes, the sky appeared to be the limit for the son of Dynaformer.


Yet despite subsequently turning in a big effort nearly every time out, Brilliant Speed has mostly found himself close behind the winner and not in the winner’s circle. Trainer Tom Albertrani is hoping his colt is ready to break through – with the help of a little pace to run at – Saturday in the 140th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap.


The 1 ¼-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up is one of the featured races on the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes card in which I’ll Have Another will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.


Last September, Brilliant Speed scored in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga and then finished second in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park. He closed out his 3-year-old year with a third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.


He returned this year after a nearly five-month layoff, shaking off the rust with a close-up fifth-place finish in the one-mile Grade 3 Appleton on March 31 at Gulfstream Park. In his next start, the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, Albertrani expected a strong pace to chase in a field full of speedsters.


A duel never developed, however, and front-running winner Little Mike eased his way around the turf course through moderate fractions. After being steadied at the three-eighths pole, Brilliant Speed settled for third.


“At least he’s consistent,” Albertrani said. “We expected a strong pace that day, and we didn’t get it. This race, hopefully, they’re setting a good pace for him. I think that’s his best race. In the Jamaica, he ran on the lead; he could do it, but normally he likes to sit off the lead. He’s always right there. Eventually, he’ll have his breakout race.”


Unlike the Turf Classic at Churchill, the Manhattan attracted no confirmed front-runners in its eight-horse field.


That could create a tactical battle among the participating jockeys and even lead to Brilliant Speed finding himself on the lead under rider John Velazquez.


The contention runs deep. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey appears to have Phipps Stables’ Boisterous ready for a top effort. The 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor has four wins in six starts on the Belmont Park grass, including his most recent start, a one-length victory over Desert Blanc in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy.


That race, like Boisterous’ first start of the year, came at 1 1/16 miles, and McGaughey believes his horse only will improve with the longer distance. Boisterous initially had been pointed toward a run in the Turf Classic, but “I got sidetracked this winter in Florida,” McGaughey said. “My plan was to get a race in him and then run on Derby Day, but he ran in a race on a turf course that was hard and he didn’t run as good as I thought he would. I couldn’t see him running in a Grade 1 right after that.


“He had a good work on Sunday, and I think the mile-and-a-quarter hits him right between the eyes.”


Alan Garcia will ride Boisterous, the 7-2 morning-line third choice who drew post position 2.


Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out the streaking Hudson Steele, a 5-year-old son of Johannesburg owned by Roger Weiss. After missing by a neck in the Fort Marcy in 2011, Hudson Steele disappeared for a year because of injuries and emerged in April in top form.


Starting his season at Pimlico, Hudson Steele easily won the Henry Clark at a mile, then returned to the Baltimore track on Preakness Day to win the Grade 2 Dixie at 1 1/8 miles by 2 ½ lengths.


“He had a couple of issues and has never been able to string a campaign together,” said assistant trainer Michael McCarthy. “He’s a stronger, sounder horse this year. His races at Pimlico – the first race back in the Henry Clark was a great starting point, and the Dixie, a top effort there. It would have taken a very good horse to beat him that day.


“Obviously, this is a big step up. The mile-and-a-quarter is uncharted waters, but the horse has trained really well.”


Hudson Steele will leave from post 7 as the 5-2 favorite with Javier Castellano aboard.


Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott sends out Al Khali, a winner of multiple graded stakes, including Belmont Park’s 2010 Grade 2 Bowling Green, which the ridgling captured despite a rough trip. After an allowance win to start his 6-year-old season, Al Khali, like Brilliant Speed, was compromised by the pace in the Turf Classic.


“He’s doing well,” said assistant Leana Willaford. “We’re hoping for some fast ground, I think. He needs pace to run at, and he needs to get in a little trouble – that seems to help him. Since he’s been here [at Belmont Park] for the past two or three weeks, he’s been doing well.”


Al Khali, 10-1 on the morning line, drew post 3. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has the assignment.


Also in the field are Desert Blanc, second in the Fort Marcy for trainer Chad Brown; Papaw Bodie, a Grade 3 stakes winner who finished sixth in the Turf Classic for trainer Michael Maker; Omayad, shipping in from California for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale after a sterling 3-year-old season in South America, and Top Surprize, the third-place finisher in the Fort Marcy for trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul, who upset the Manhattan last year with Mission Approved at odds of 21-1.


The field for the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap:








Omayad (CHI)

J Rosario


N D Drysdale



Boisterous (KY)

A Garcia


C R McGaughey III



Al Khali (KY)

M E Smith


W I Mott



Desert Blanc (GB)

R A Dominguez


C C Brown



Papaw Bodie (KY)

R Napravnik


M J Maker



Brilliant Speed (FL)

J R Velazquez


T Albertrani



Hudson Steele (KY)

J Castellano


T A Pletcher



Top Surprize (KY)

J L Espinoza


N Chatterpaul





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Older Comments about Brilliant Speed Needs Pace Help in Manhattan...

Omayad will run a big race in the Manhattan! Just look how he leveled off in his comeback race. He outgalloped the winner by more than ten lengths. Can't wait to seeing him run!
Ran a big 3rd in the 1 1/2 BC Turf to St. Nicholas Abbey last Nov at Churchill Downs . He ran a nice 3rd last out after chasing a slow pace and being steadied against winner Little Mike at 1 1/8 on the grass. Look for him to be in the winners circle on Saturday afternoon. I bet him last out and will hit him heavy in this one. le.
Ran a big 3rd in the 1 1/2 BC Turf to St. Nicholas Abbey last Nov at Churchill Downs . He ran a nice 3rd last out after chasing a slow pace and being steadied against winner Little Mike at 1 1/8 on the grass. Look for him to be in the winners circle on Saturday afternoon. I bet him last out and will hit him heavy in this one. le.
Bet this one last out. He was steadied in the stretch

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