03/29/2012 1:42PM

Gulfstream Park: Brilliant Speed returns in Appleton Stakes

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Tom Keyser
Brilliant Speed starts his 2012 campaign in the Grade 3, $100,000 Appleton Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Though he is best known for his victory in the Blue Grass Stakes last spring and a subsequent third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, it is on turf where Brilliant Speed seemed most effective in 2011. He developed steadily all year long, and by the fall was good enough to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf behind two European invaders.

Having accomplished all that at age 3, and being by Dynaformer – whose stock usually improve with age – the future appears bright indeed for Brilliant Speed. Following a layoff of more than four months, Brilliant Speed launches his 2012 campaign Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3, $100,000 Appleton Stakes.

The Appleton, at one mile on turf, might appear to be short of ideal for Brilliant Speed. But Brilliant Speed turned in two terrific efforts in middle-distance grass races here last year; he could have won both with better trips. So, despite the layoff and the race clearly serving as a prep, he cannot be taken lightly.

[FLORIDA DERBY: Video previews, watch Saturday's full card live]

“He’s been training well coming up to this spot,” Tom Albertrani, who trains Brilliant Speed, said Thursday morning. “He’s definitely more mature. He’s always been a light-framed horse, but he’s got more muscle now. He’s developed physically very well.

“The distance is within his range. I had thought about running him in the Pan American,” Albertrani said, referring to the 1 1/2-mile grass race here last Saturday, “but he’s been real sharp, and I was afraid he’d be too keen going that far off a layoff. I didn’t want to get him all used up and set him back.

“It seemed better to go in a shorter race and set him up for something like the Woodford Reserve,” Albertrani said, referring to the Grade 1, $500,000 grass race at 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, May 5.

The Appleton, the eighth race on the card, drew a field of eight, all of whom carry 117 pounds.

Trend figures to be one of the main players in the race. He comes off a sharp second in the Canadian Turf going one mile March 3. After needing 10 starts to finally defeat maidens, Trend has displayed marked improvement this winter.

Beau Choix was fifth in the Canadian Turf, his first start in more than five months.

“I don’t know what’s with him,” trainer Barclay Tagg said. “He seems like a very talented horse, the way he trains, but sometimes he doesn’t give it to you. I was disappointed in his last race. Maybe these are a little tough for him. But he’s doing good.”

Street Game beat a second-level allowance field Feb. 5 in his first start in nearly six months. He is best known for winning the Hill Prince last summer at Belmont Park.

Corporate Jungle beat a first-level allowance field last time Feb. 18 after finishing second to Trend in another allowance race Jan. 19.

Former claimer Monument Hill, speedy Tampa invader El Commodore, and Decisive Moment, who is making his first start on turf, complete the field.

Appleton S. (G3), Post Time: 3:55 ET Saturday

Purse: $100,000; 1 mile (T)

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Monument Hill

G. Weaver

R. Maragh

7-2

1

Corporate Jungle

C. Brown

J. Castellano

4-1

1

Street Game

P. Serpe

R. Curatolo

6-1

1

Brilliant Speed

T. Albertrani

J. Velazquez

5-2

1

El Commodore

C. Griffith

D. Coa

5-1

1

Decisive Moment

J. Arias

S. Madrid

15-1

1

Beau Choix

B. Tagg

E. Prado

8-1

1

Trend

M. Frostad

J. Leparoux

5-1