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Wired Bryan Takes On Nine Challengers in Hopeful

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.



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Older Comments about Wired Bryan Takes On Nine Challengers in Hopeful...

Big win..good weekend for my bankroll...will keep an eye on him moving forward
if the track is off..Long On Value worth a look as well.
wow strong mandate is 6-1 ml and and 4th choice normally lukas 2 year olds arent that low in big stakes races as 2 year olds
Strong Mandate and Lunarwarfare...betting them to Win...depending on ML Odds.

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