05/29/2002 11:00PM

Beyond Brilliant is below his best


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Star sprinters Full Moon Madness and Echo Eddie can strike fear in the hearts of opposing trainers.

Both have earned more than $800,000. Full Moon Madness returned from a one-year layoff to win the $100,000 Valiant Pete Handicap at Santa Anita on April 18. Echo Eddie won the $100,000 Ken Maddy Sprint Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 23, then ran second, beaten only a head in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 23.

Both are entered in Saturday's $55,000-added Saratoga Handicap at Bay Meadows, though both may also enter the $100,000-added, Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

They attracted five rivals in the six-furlong race, including comebacking Tannersmyman, Beyond Brilliant, Texas Chili, San Nicholas, and Today A Star.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist believes that under optimum conditions Beyond Brilliant, who will carry 116 pounds, would be competitive with Full Moon Madness and Echo Eddie, who will spot him 5 and 4 pounds.

But he's not sure that Saturday will be optimum conditions for Beyond Brilliant, who was favored over Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Squirtle Squirt when they met last year.

"Things haven't gone very smooth with him," Gilchrist said. "We hope to get a good race into him. Will he be at his best? Absolutely not."

Beyond Brilliant, 4, won four-of-five starts as a 2-year-old. He had three wins, three seconds, and a third in eight starts as a 3-year-old.

He pressed the pace and faded to fourth behind Mellow Fellow in his 4-year-old debut in the Danville Handicap March 24 at Golden Gate Fields.

"I had him ready to run [since then], but races didn't go or were not offered," Gilchrist said. "I could have come back and run him three weeks after his last race, but the next race [the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint on May 11] was seven weeks and they never offered a prep race."

Gilchrist takes responsibility for his colt's condition, and doesn't blame the racing office for the lack of races. But he would like Beyond Brilliant to be more fit.

"Different horses are different to get ready," he said. "This is a big, heavy colt. You can only work him so fast and so much, so he's compromised in his training. If races are offered, it's easier."