03/16/2013 8:16PM

Santa Anita: Bright Thought brilliant in Grade 2 San Luis Rey

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Benoit & Associaties
Bright Thought scored by 3 1/4 lengths while making his stakes debut Saturday in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Bright Thought hasn’t hit his ceiling yet, and that’s a scary thought because he turned in a freakish performance in the Grade 2, $150,750 San Luis Rey Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita, powering to a course-record win by 3 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/2-mile grass race.

Bright Thought ($7.40) was on or near the lead throughout under Victor Espinoza, and though this was his first time at the distance, he kept on motoring and won comfortably in 2:22.72, 0.08 seconds faster than the previous record held by Hawkster since Oct. 14, 1989.

All Squared Away was second, three-quarters of a length in front of Fire With Fire. Interaction was fourth and was followed by Slim Shadey, Tiz Gianni, Bourbon Bay, and Huntsville. John Scott was scratched Friday.

The first three furlongs of the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey come down a hill, hence a final time that is quicker than what would be expected if the race was on a level course throughout. Regardless, that should not take away from Bright Thought’s performance. He is a rising star.

“He’s an unbelievable horse; he’s an unbelievable talent,” Espinoza said. “He has the speed, but he can rate too.”

Bright Thought was once risked in a $25,000 maiden-claiming race at Laurel and still had first-level allowance conditions when he returned to trainer Jorge Gutierrez earlier this year following a foray East. Gutierrez put Bright Thought on turf, and magic happened.

Bright Thought won a starter allowance – the Super Bowl Party Handicap – on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, then was a dazzling winner in a first-level allowance Feb. 21. The San Luis Rey was his stakes debut.

Marjorie Dye and Alex Venneri own Bright Thought, who was bred in partnership by Venneri. Bright Thought, 4, is a colt by the Sunday Silence sire Hat Trick, and he’s out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Thought. He has won four times in seven starts.