SAN LIUS REY STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/2 MILES
Bright Thought served notice that he'll be a major force in the turf division this year with a course-record performance in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,750 San Luis Rey at Santa Anita. Making his stakes debut with Victor Espinoza in the irons, the Hat Trick colt led passing the stands the first time, conceded control to Slim Shadey, and then re-rallied to seize command turning for home and drew with authority to win by 3 1/4 lengths. The final time of 2:22.72 for 1 1/2 miles on firm turf bested the previous course mark of 2:22.83 set by Little Mike in last November's Breeders' Cup Turf.
"He's an unbelievable horse, he's an unbelievable talent," Espinoza said of Bright Thought, who races for Dye and Venneri Racing and is trained by Jorge Gutierrez.
A narrow leader over Slim Shadey through splits of :24 2/5 and :47 4/5, Bright Thought yielded to that rival entering the clubhouse turn and sat as many as two lengths behind while Slim Shadey ripped through a mile in 1:34 4/5 and 1 1/4 miles in 1:58 3/5. Leaving nothing for the stretch run, Slim Shadey began to regress approaching the quarter pole as Bright Thought found another gear. A length ahead at the eighth pole, Bright Thought opened up late in a tremendous effort.
All Squared Away, a 12-1 chance, rallied to finish second, three-quarters of a length ahead of 20-1 chance Fire With Fire. Interaction, the 2-1 favorite, was a non-threatening fifth and was followed by Slim Shadey, Tiz Gianni, 2012 San Luis Rey winner Bourbon Bay and Huntsville. John Scott was scratched.
Seventh behind eventual Grade 1 Malibu winner Jimmy Creed in his July 2012 debut at Hollywood Park for Gutierrez, Bright Thought made his next three starts for trainer Stephanie Beattie. An 11-length winner of a $25,000 maiden claimer at Laurel on November 16, Bright Thought next ran sixth in a first-level allowance at Parx on December 2. A 1 1/2-length allowance win at Penn National followed on January 13, but was later negated after the colt tested positive for a prohibited substance.
Bright Thought was returned to Gutierrez and made his turf debut at Santa Anita in a one mile starter handicap on Super Bowl Sunday, which he won in gate-to-wire fashion by 2 1/4 lengths. Last time, he coasted in a 1 1/4-mile first-level allowance on the lawn by 5 1/4 lengths on February 21. His record now stands at 7-4-0-0, $164,500.
"I don't think I'm going to go longer with him, trainer Jorge Gutierrez said. "We're going to sit back and see how he comes out of this and change the game plan a little bit. He's a nice horse but he's had three tough races here back to back, so he needs a little breather between this."
Bred in Kentucky by Postum Farm and Venneri Racing, Bright Thought was produced by the Smart Strike mare Smart Thought. The four-year-old's third dam, Right Word, is the ancestress of such standouts as Raven's Pass, an English highweight and 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic winner; English champion Rainbow View; Grade 1 vixen No Matter What; and multiple Grade 2 winner and noted sire E Dubai.