Trainer Todd Pletcher and former assistant Michael Dilger will tangle in the $200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes Aug. 11 at Saratoga Race Course, when Pletcher sends out young starters Corfu and Danza and Dilger wheels back July 21 Sanford Stakes winner Wired Bryan to the 6 ½-furlong test.
Wired Bryan is the only stakes winner in a field of seven juveniles, and will start again quickly off his 5 ¼-length triumph in the Sanford at the Spa. The Anstu Farm homebred son of Stormy Atlantic also has a 7 ½-length victory against New York-bred maidens June 21 at Belmont Park to his credit.
Dilger, who won his first stakes and race at Saratoga in the Sanford, is aware Wired Bryan is making a quick turnaround.
"He had 32 days between his maiden win and the Sanford; that's probably ideal," said Dilger. "This is maybe a little bit short, but he's got a good disposition, he's held his weight well, and he's trained well and breezed well. It was a case of 'Why not?'"
Wired Bryan, 7-2, will leave from the outside post in the field of seven with Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons.
Four of the Saratoga Special entrants will be making their second start in Sunday's race, and Pletcher will send out two of them in Corfu and Danza.
Corfu is stretching out in distance off a hard-fought half-length triumph in a five-furlong maiden race on July 25 at Saratoga. Leaving post 1, the Malibu Moon colt dueled for the lead from the inside and prevailed following a lengthy battle with Pure Sensation.
"It was a very fast race," said Pletcher, who trains Corfu for Michael Tabor, John Magnier, and Derrick Smith. "I think he showed some courage. There was a lot of pace pressure early, and he seemed to bounce out of the race really well, so we hope to take advantage of his speed and give this a try. I was interested to see how he'd bounce back, and he bounced back with very good energy. He's in great condition, and there's every indication the race moved him forward."
Corfu, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez from post 4.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Danza enters the Saratoga Special off a three-quarter-length debut win July 12 at Belmont.
"The Sanford was too quick back, and we zeroed in on this during that time," said Pletcher. "I think there will be more pace in a race like this, and I think the horse will prefer to settle and make a run."
Javier Castellano will ride Danza, 8-1 on the morning line, from post 6.
Cathy and Bob Zollars' Candy Dandy stalked the early pace before running away to a five-length victory June 30 at Churchill Downs. Both the runner-up (Dunkin Bend, Aug. 3) and third-place finisher (Base Case Scenario, July 27) returned to break their maidens at Saratoga.
"He's been training good up here," said trainer Steve Asmussen of Candy Dandy. "He was ready the first time, and he's very professional and easy to train. He puts plenty into everything he does."
Rosie Napravnik has the call aboard the son of Candy Ride , 3-1, from post 3.
Invading from Florida is Lunarwarfare, who earned a Beyer figure of 92 for his debut victory July 14 at Gulfstream Park.
In his debut, Lunarwarfare raced in the clear just off the early leader in third, offered a challenge at the quarter pole, quickly dispatched the pacesetter, and drew off to a 6 ½-length triumph in the 4 ¼-furlong dash.
"The extra distance should be beneficial," said Michael Yates, who trains the Shadybrook Farm homebred. "He has a good mind and he's easy to rate if need be. In his debut we rushed him a little more than he wants to be, but he responded well, finished well, and galloped out well. I was impressed with the race."
The War Pass colt, 6-1, will depart from the rail with Juan Leyva aboard.
The Saratoga Special will be the third start as well for Twang, who is also coming back off short rest. After finishing third in his June debut at Churchill, the son of Dixie Union led the field from gate to wire in a 3 1/4-length maiden win on July 27 at Saratoga.
"We're happy he broke his maiden and we started thinking about spots," said Al Stall, who trains Twang for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. "Nominations for the Saratoga Special closed that afternoon after he ran, so we shot him into that race before it closed. We're just trying to catch the right spot. He came out of the race well, so we're looking sooner rather than later. He's a strong horse, and, win or lose, it seems like the right thing to do.
"He's professional," Stall added. "He doesn't need to be on the lead, he just found himself on the lead the other day. We just took what they gave us. He's a laid-back type of horse."
Joel Rosario has the call aboard Twang, 5-1, from post 5.
The Saratoga Special field also includes Ogermeister, who defeated New York-breds May 16 at Belmont before finishing 15th of 24 in the Windsor Castle Stakes on June 18 at Royal Ascot.