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Pletcher Says Corfu & Danza Both Considered for Hopeful

Despite his dominance with 2-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course, nine-time meet-leading trainer Todd Pletcher had never won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special until Corfu's gutsy victory by a nose in Sunday's renewal. 

Pletcher had gone 0-for-6 in the second of Saratoga's three graded juvenile stakes on the dirt not restricted to fillies, finishing second with King of the Roxy in 2006 and Stat in 2011. Meanwhile, he has won the Sanford five times, the Spinaway and Schuylerville four times, the Adirondack three times, the With Anticipation twice, and the Hopeful twice.

"I think the Saratoga Special has sort of been similar to the Preakness for us, in that a lot of our better 2-year-olds have shown up in the Sanford and then kind of their next step was the Hopeful," Pletcher said. "It's just kind of the way it has fallen."

Pletcher reported Monday morning that both Corfu and rallying third-place finisher Danza emerged from the Saratoga Special in good shape, and both would be considered for the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on September 2.

"[Corfu] has shown that he's very fast and he's got some courage to go along with it," Pletcher said. "I was once again surprised at how well he bounced out of what seemed like a demanding race. I think [Danza] definitely got lost in the shuffle, because one more stride and it's going to be a three-horse photo."

Two of Pletcher's four wins on Sunday came with maidens, including impressive filly Sweet Whiskey, who led from start to finish and hit the wire 5 ¼ lengths in front after running 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.81.

The Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway on September 1 is a "definite possibility" for the bay daughter of Old Fashioned, said Pletcher, along with stablemates Elena Strikes and Stopchargingmaria.

"She'd been training really well and had breezed in company with a couple of other fillies that had already run well at the meet, so we anticipated she would run well," Pletcher said. "It was nice to see her do it."

Pletcher said Sunday's other maiden winner, We Miss Artie, would be pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation on August 29. We Miss Artie won by three lengths going 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course in 1:45.06 under a hand ride.

"I thought he ran OK on the dirt, but being [by] Artie Schiller, we felt like turf was something we wanted to look at," said Pletcher. "We breezed him on the turf and he went really well, so we decided to go that way. I thought he ran a good race."

Among Pletcher's workers on Monday were Authenticity, who went five furlongs in 1:01.92 prepping for the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on August 25, and Shanghai Bobby, last year's champion 2-year-old male who was clocked in 49.62 seconds for a half-mile. Since being sidelined with a pelvic stress fracture, Shanghai Bobby has had three works at Saratoga.

"[Authenticity] was her normal professional self and galloped out great. I think we're in really good shape at the moment," Pletcher said. "This was [Shanghai Bobby's] first half, and he surprised me a little bit. His fitness level is a little higher than I expected it to be after only three breezes, so we're making good progress."

Pletcher's big Sunday put him at 23 wins heading into Monday's card, leading runner-up Chad Brown by 11.

"I felt like, going in, we could have a good day, but I've felt that way before and left there with a big bagel," Pletcher said. "It's nice that it came together."

 

 

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