There are indeed times when a horse is aptly named.
C R K Stable's Beyond Brilliant was just that In the $404,500 Hollywood Derby (G1T) as the son of Twirling Candy grabbed the lead at the start and never looked back under jockey Kent Desormeaux in posting a neck victory over Godolphin's Santin in the Nov. 27 1 1/8-mile stakes at Del Mar for 3-year-olds.
"The (credit) goes to the barn because it's beyond brilliant what they've done to him in the last month," Desormeaux said, putting to use the keywords of the afternoon.
After spending his first seven starts in running in allowance and maiden races on turf and dirt for trainer John Shirreffs, Beyond Brilliant blossomed when elevated into stakes company. He was third last time out in the Oct. 31 Twilight Derby (G2T) while making his stakes debut and then took a big step forward in earning grade 1 laurels Saturday.
"In his last start, I had my hands full and tried to manhandle him and coax him back and it didn't work as well," Desormeaux said. "But today he was dry as a bone going to the post. He was very content, very happy and he ran like he was just slapping the ground the first mile and he was a tough customer in the final eighth. He showed that he can sprint if he's allowed to have it his own way and he had it his today and his mind was right."
In picking a highly opportune time to post his first graded stakes victory, the Kentucky-bred newly minted grade 1 winner improved his record to three wins in nine starts with earnings of $381,280.
"Today was a really good day because he relaxed nicely and Kent rides him beautifully," Shirreffs said. "We tinkered around with him and Kent said, 'No, he's much better like this.'"
For Desormeaux, there was the added satisfaction of recording his first grade 1 win since the 2019 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) with Ollie's Candy. After failing to win a graded stakes in 2020 and the first seven months of 2021, the Hall of Fame rider now has three this year including graded stakes wins in back-to-back days after winning the Nov. 26 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G2T) with Say the Word.
"It's a tremendous amount of support, even more than you imagine because of social media," said the 51-year-old Desormeaux, whose 49 wins this year are his most since 2018. "The people who can't pat me on my back are leaving all kinds of messages. It's very humbling."
Shirreffs was delighted to be part of Desormeaux's celebration.
"(Kent) and I go back a very, very long way and we've had our ups and downs," Shirreffs said, "but I'm so happy that Kent's riding so great and very thankful he did it for us today."
Though a full field of 14 3-year-olds, six of whom ran in the Twilight Derby, entered the starting gate for the Hollywood Derby, Beyond Brilliant and Desormeaux were the only ones interested in the lead. They led by 1 1/2 lengths after a half-mile in :49.23, and still led by a length as Team Merchants, 4-1 second choice and Twilight Derby winner Subconscious, and Cathkin Peak mounted challenges on the final turn through six furlongs in 1:13.62.
But that trio was unable to put a dent in his lead, leaving it to Santin, who was eighth early after breaking from post 14, to make matters interesting in the final furlong. Though the homebred son of Distorted Humor made up nearly four lengths in that last eighth-of-a-mile, the wide-running competitor fell just short of adding to a memorable weekend for trainer Brendan Walsh, who won the Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) at Churchill Downs with Godolphin's Maxfield the previous day.
CYBT, Sterling Stables, and Michael Nentwig's Cathkin Peak, an Alhebayeb gelding trained by Phil D'Amato, was 1 1/4 lengths back in third, a head in front of 9-5 favorite Public Sector who came off the rail in the stretch to grab fourth.
Beyond Brilliant, who covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.84 over firm turf for owners Lee and Susan Searing, paid $23.80 to win
The bay Twirling Candy colt was bought for $200,000 by Mayberry Farm from the Kings Equine consignment at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. Bred by Fred Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Robert Tribbett out of the First Defence mare Summer On the Lawn, he is the third foal from his dam and third winner but first stakes winner. She also has a 2-year-old Mastery filly and a weanling Mitole filly.