Wired Bryan tangles with Pletcher's talented trio in G1 Hopeful; Tannery returns to face fellow females in G3 Glens Falls
By Phil Janack | 08/30/2013 05:16 PM ET
In the 13 years since City Zip swept Saratoga Race Course's trio of open graded juvenile dirt stakes - the Grade 2 Sanford, Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 1 Hopeful - there hasn't been one horse to as much as compete in all three races.
The streak will end on Monday, when Wired Bryan takes on nine challengers, including a triple threat from meet-leading trainer Todd Pletcher, in the 109th renewal of the $300,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds going seven furlongs.
Carded as the ninth of 10 races, the Hopeful and Grade 3, $150,000 Glens Falls highlight the Closing Day program as Saratoga wraps up its 150th anniversary meet.
Trained by former Pletcher assistant Michael Dilger for Anstu Stables, Wired Bryan broke his maiden at Belmont Park on June 19 and rolled to a 5 ¼-length victory in the Sanford on July 21, Dilger's first starter at Saratoga.
Dilger brought Wired Bryan back in the Saratoga Special on August 11, dueling with fellow Hopeful contender Corfu around the track before falling a nose short at the wire.
"He's got a lot of try," Dilger said. "I think his biggest asset is his attitude. He's a very laid-back horse, borderline lazy. That helps when you're trying to put together three races in quick succession. We're running him in these races because that's the way he's presented himself. He shows that he's able to handle it. Hopefully, he'll be able to handle the next one."
Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard in the Sanford, will ride Wired Bryan, second choice at 7-2 on the morning line, from post 8.
"He has presented himself as a very straightforward horse," Dilger said. "He's had no hiccups along the way and, touch wood, he's been a very, very sound horse. The fact that he's talented, we can't train that."
Pletcher has won the Hopeful twice, including last year with eventual Champion Two-Year-Old Male Shanghai Bobby. He returns this year with Corfu and maiden winners All in Blue and King Cyrus.
Corfu, a bay son of Malibu Moon, won his debut on July 25 at Saratoga, and came back 17 days later to take the Saratoga Special, both in front-running style. The 3-1 program favorite, he will leave from post 4 in the Hopeful with his regular rider, Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
"He's pretty fast, and speed is his weapon, so we'll look to continue to take advantage of that," Pletcher said. "In both of his races he's shown he's got some fight to him, so we hope that he'll be able to carry his speed a little further."
A maiden winner in July at Belmont, All in Blue stumbled at the break and came wide into the stretch to finish fourth in the Sanford. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard the More Than Ready colt, owned by Starlight Racing and listed at 15-1 on the morning line.
"Running back on short rest and stumbling at the start I think compromised his chances in the Sanford," said Pletcher. "He's trained well since then, and we feel like he deserves another chance."
Owned by WinStar Farms, King Cyrus turned heads with an 11-length romp in his unveiling on August 5 at the Spa at the Sanford distance. He is the only horse in the field to have run beyond 6 ½ furlongs.
"His one start was impressive," Pletcher said. "He's a horse that is going to appreciate more distance down the road, but in a race that looks like it's going to have a lot of pace, it could set up well for him. You're always concerned going from one start to a Grade 1, but that's sort of where today's racing is. You're forced to jump into the deep end of the pool right off the bat."
Meet-leading rider Javier Castellano gets a return call on King Cyrus, 10-1, from the outside post 10.
Trainer Steve Asmussen takes aim at his first Hopeful victory with both Big Sugar Soda and Southern Blessing. Big Sugar Soda is coming off a Spa maiden victory on July 22 where he posted a 94 Beyer Speed Figure, tops in the field. Southern Blessing won first time out in May at Churchill Downs, and returned to finish second to Wired Bryan in the Sanford.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith will ride Big Sugar Soda, 4-1, from post 6, while Rosie Napravnik has the mount on Southern Blessing, 20-1, from post 1.
Also in the Hopeful are Casiguapo, an 11-length maiden winner on July 20 at Calder Race Course; Long On Value, unbeaten in three starts and making his debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; Lunarwarfare, beaten less than two lengths while fourth in the Saratoga Special; and Strong Mandate, who graduated with a 4 ½-length victory on August 17 at the Spa with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.
First run in 1996, the Glens Falls is the final graded turf stakes of the meet, for fillies and mares 3 years old and up going 11 furlongs over the inner turf course.
A field of 15 was entered led by Tannery, who is wheeled back by trainer Alan Goldberg 16 days after the 4-year-old Dylan Thomas filly closed to be fourth against males in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitationalon August 17 at Saratoga.
Owned by Richard Santulli, Tannery was a Group 3 winner last year in Ireland who ran third in the Grade 1 Garden City in her stateside debut. Her lone victory this year came in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay on May 25 at Belmont Park.
Castellano will ride Tannery, the 2-1 program favorite, from post 8.
Angel Terrace, trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard for Augustin Stable, hails from the same connections that captured the 2011 Glens Falls with Emerald Beech.
A 4-year-old chestnut daughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, Angel Terrace was fourth of seven, beaten 3 ¼ lengths, in the 1 ½-mile Waya on August 5 at Saratoga. Winless in four starts this year, Angel Terrace came from off the pace to take the Grade 3 Valley View last October at Keeneland by a nose.
On Wednesday, Angel Terrace tuned up for the Glens Falls with a five-furlong breeze in 59.70 seconds over the Tapeta surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
"[The Waya] was a rough race," Sheppard said. "She definitely had a troubled trip; I think she maybe could have been second. Off of that, I think it's worth a shot. She's run very good over a distance of ground. She's had a nice spacing between her races, and she seems fine. She had a nice work at Fair Hill [Wednesday] morning, so we'll give it our best shot."
Napravnik replaces Castellano on Angel Terrace, 6-1 on the morning line, from post 4.
"She has been riding well lately, and I think that her style of sort of swinging wide and coming down the middle of the stretch might suit this filly," Sheppard said. "I don't think the distance is a problem. She basically ran well in the Waya at a long distance. In fact, she's not really extremely fast, so I think the long distance helps her."
Also in the Glens Falls are Grade 3 Bewitch winner Strathnaver; Anjaz and Mystical Star, who ran second and third, respectively, behind Qushchi in the Waya; Layali Dubai, making her third stateside start for trainer Eoin Harty; graded stakes placed Minakshi, third in the Grade 3 Matchmaker and Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay this year; Grade 1-placed Cash for Clunkers, in just her second start this year; and White Rose, making her stakes debut.
Owned by Godolphin Stable, Anjaz and Layli Dubai are coupled in the wagering. Lady Cohiba, Greed and Fear, Scampering, Geisha Gal, Malibu Holiday and Swift Taylor will run only if the race is moved to the main track.
The field for the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful:
The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Glens Falls: