07/15/2016 12:06PM

Stallion Brilliant Speed killed by lightning strike

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Barbara D. Livingston
Brilliant Speed as a 3-year-old in 2011.

The versatile Grade 1 winner Brilliant Speed, one of the heirs apparent to leading sire Dynaformer, was found dead in his paddock Thursday at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., after being struck by lightning.

Brilliant Speed was a top-level performer on multiple surfaces. He won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on Keeneland’s Polytrack, earning his way into the Triple Crown series, where he finished third in the 2011 Belmont Stakes. He spent the bulk of his racing career on turf, winning the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes and placing in multiple Grade 1 events, including a third in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf. He retired with more than $1.2 million in earnings.

Brilliant Speed entered stud at Three Chimneys, the former home of Dynaformer, in 2013. According to Jockey Club statistics, he covered 47 mares in his first season, 41 mares in 2014, and 45 in 2015; the statistics for his crop of 2016 are not yet available. Brilliant Speed has yet to sire a winner from four first-crop runners; Mongolian Changa has been third in both of her starts.

Dynaformer, who died in April 2012, has yet to have a son truly take up the torch for him at stud. His best-known American son is the ill-fated Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Many of his top performers in the United States have been mares, such as Grade 1 winners Film Maker, Riskaverse, and Sand Springs, or geldings, such as millionaire Perfect Drift and steeplechase champion McDynamo. Brilliant Speed was one of a trio of young Grade/Group 1 winners expected to reburnish Dynaformer’s legacy and was the best performer of the three on the main track; the others are turf star Point of Entry, whose first foals are yearlings, at Adena Springs and Melbourne Cup winner Americain, a freshman sire at Calumet Farm.

Out of the unraced Gone West mare Speed Succeeds, Brilliant Speed was a half-brother to stakes winner Souper Speedy. It is the family of Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and Canadian champions With Approval and Serenading.

Although lightning strikes at farms and racetracks are not unheard of, reported incidents of high-profile stallions being killed by lightning are few and far between. Bold, the 1951 Preakness Stakes winner, was killed by lightning the following year while on layup at a farm in Virginia; Watch Your Step, a son of Citation, was struck and killed in Virginia while at stud in 1975. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner and dual-hemisphere sire Suave Dancer was struck by lightning in December 1998 in Australia. Among Kentucky stallions, multiple graded winner Jambalaya Jazz died in June 2005 at Nuckols Farm in Midway.

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