Brilliant Speed wins Derby spot



On the second weekend of Keeneland Race Course’s 75th season, 12 horses entered the gates in the 87th running of the Blue Grass Stakes Saturday afternoon with a spot in the Kentucky Derby on the line.

After the full 1 1/8 mile race, Brilliant Speed came from the fifth lane to win at 6-1 odds by a nose over Twinspired.

In what ended up being the most exciting race of the afternoon, many felt that Santiva, who went off at 3-1 odds, would be the favorite to win the Stakes, with Crimson China as a dark horse in lane 11. But as the horses rounded the final turn and headed for home it was Brilliant Speed and Twinsired out in front exchanging first place back and forth with each stride they took.

After the race, Keeneland officials had to go back to the tape to see who crossed the finish line first. Upon further review it was Brilliant Speed, who reached across the finish winning by less than a nose to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby, which will be held in three weeks in Louisville, Ky.

“It is an unbelievable feeling for me,” said Joel Rosario, the jockey who rode Brilliant Speed to victory. “I have to say thank you to all the people who came here to the race — the owners, the trainers — to give me their support.”

When asked for his thoughts on Rosario’s riding in the race, trainer Thomas Albetrani had nothing but good things to say.

“I couldn’t fault any part of it,” Albetrani said. “He split horses up. That fourth pole, he split his way right through traffic and angled him out perfectly so he could run.”

However, Brilliant Speed was not the horse Albetrani expected to win the race. King Congie, another horse trained by Albetrani, ran out of gate two at 5-1 odds as one of the favorites to win the race. But Brilliant Speed stunned the field and gave Albetrani and owner Charlotte C. Weber an unexpected spot in the Derby in three weeks.

“When I asked my cousin what she would like to say, she said, ‘I can’t say anything right now, I’m speechless,’ which is very unusual for her,” said George Strawbridge, first cousin of Weber. “However, given a 30-second break, she was very grateful for her trainer for not beating us with this other horse (King Congie). And she said in a rather light-hearted moment, ‘Oh my goodness, I might be going to the Derby after all.’”