ARCADIA, Calif.–Although he’d never been beyond a mile and one eighth, the John Shirreffs-trained Beyond Brilliant seemed to relish a mile and one quarter on turf Saturday at Santa Anita, as he dictated the pace throughout and held Masteroffoxhounds at bay by 1 ¼ lengths on the money to win the Grade II, $225,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes. Ridden to perfection by Victor Espinoza, the 4-year-old colt by Twirling Candy got the trip in 1:58.72.
With a traditional hillside start just above Santa Anita’s main track crossing, Beyond Brilliant broke outwards from his outside post, but seemed to use it to his advantage as he made an easy lead and maintained a 1 ½ length advantage over Masteroffoxhounds after the first quarter mile. With Masteroffoxhounds and Juan Hernandez looming to within a half length to his outside turning for home, Beyond Brilliant had plenty left as he sped to his second graded stakes victory.
“It was a lot of fun and I always look forward to ride these kinds of horses,” said Espinoza. “It was one of those things that I had a good post outside and I thought that was great for this horse because he can get a little keen. When he gets aggressive, it’s tough to get him back, you know, to relax. But today, he did what I wanted.”
Most recently a solid fourth in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile here March 5, Beyond Brilliant was off as the 3-2 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up and paid $5.00, $3.40 and $2.60.
Owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, LLC, Beyond Brilliant, who is out of the First Defence mare Summer On the Lawn, picked up $135,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $586,280 and improving his overall mark to 12-4-3-2.
“He broke a little wide and he crossed over the dirt a little wide but once he got the lead and had a length, a length and a half on them, he just relaxed,” said Shirreffs. “Yes, we thought he could get the distance. He ran really well going a mile and one eighth down at Del Mar (winning the Grade I Hollywood Derby by a neck on Nov. 27), so it didn’t seem like a mile and a quarter was asking too much. But, it’s always a case of what the pace is.”
The second choice at 7-2, Masteroffoxhounds never threw in the towel, finishing a half length in front of Gold Phoenix while returning $4.20 and $3.40.
Ridden by Kyle Frey, Irish-bred Gold Phoenix was off at 7-1 and paid $4.40 while finishing two lengths in front of Gregdar.
Fractions on the race were 23.31, 47.16, 1:11.51 and 1:35.33.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Beyond Brilliantly (Benoit Photo)