Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

The Saratoga Special


Doing it again would be special. As for the other six entries, the opportunity to score their first graded stakes win would be even more special.


Welcome to the Saratoga Special, a juvenile race unlike any other. Inaugurated in 1901, it has been around so long that Regret is still remembered for winning here prior to moving on and claiming one of the most memorable Kentucky Derby wins of all time. She became the first ever filly to wear the roses in 1915 and that was special. Following her triumph she became the first of many that proved another special win was on the horizon.


Next came Morvich in 1921-22, then Bold Forbes in 1975-76, and Swale in 1983-84. Later in 1984 the Saratoga Special became the first graded stakes win for Chief’s Crown, the original winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile later that fall. But, the legendary names don’t stop there. Other Saratoga Special winners that come to mind are Native Dancer, quite possibly the best horse to fall short of a Triple Crown. (2nd to Dark Star in the 1953 Kentucky Derby). Other Saratoga / Triple Crown winners include Summer Squall and Union Rags while the 1997 winner Favorite Trick is often remembered as one of the toughest 2-yr-olds and BC Juvenile Champs.


These are just a few examples of the rare talents that emerged victorious in the Saratoga Special and other major races. While these legendary winners deserve to be mentioned, let’s now move on to 2013.


There aren’t many instances in horse racing where a single start and maiden win will earn you lower odds than a graded stakes winner but the Juvenile season is always an exception. Wired Bryan, the winner of the G2 Sanford Stakes here at Saratoga is your third choice on the morning line at 7-2. Meanwhile, Corfu, trained by Todd Pletcher, is your favorite at 5-2 and Candy Dandy, trained by Steve Asmussen, is the second choice at 3-1.


Both horses slide in front of Wired Bryan with only 1 career win in one career start but both of these colts have high expectations. One thing about Corfu that grabs your attention right away is his daddy, Malibu Moon, sire of the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Now, put Johnny V in the irons along with TP calling the shots and maybe that will help you understand why Corfu was so highly regarded by the Saratoga odds maker.


This may be surprising but to date, neither John Velazquez nor Todd Pletcher have ever won the Saratoga Special. What, there’s actually a graded stakes race in New York that neither has won? Wow, maybe 2013 will be the year that they team up to cross this one off their list. Or, maybe Pletcher will score it alone as he also has Danza going with Javier Castellano aboard.


As for Candy Dandy his sire Candy Ride (ARG) isn’t so bad either. Winner of the 2003 G2 American Handicap at Hollywood Park and the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, Candy Ride has a very nice resume. It’s hard to say if Candy Dandy can follow in his footsteps but Rosie Napravnik will begin that quest on Saturday in search of her very first Saratoga Special as well. Steve on the hand, he will be going for his fourth (Kantharos ’10, Kodiak Kowboy ’07, Cuvee ’03).


But let’s not forget who they’re up against; Wired Bryan, best named horse in the business. Okay, that may be a little much but if we stick to racing and not the name game, he still won in convincing fashion last time out.


With Shaun Bridgmohan aboard Wired Bryan broke clean in the 6 horse G2 Sanford. They settled in 2nd before making the move onto the lead by the ½ mile mark in the 6f sprint over a fast dirt track. Once they landed on the lead that’s where they remained with ease as Wired Bryan eventually drew off to win by 5 ¼ in 1:11.06.


No other horse in that field will be back to see him again in the Saratoga Special but one horse that may have more than a decent chance is Lunarwarfare. Trained by Michael Yates and owned by Shadybrook Farms, this son of War Pass, 2007 BC Juvenile winner, ships in from Gulfstream Park last time out. So far, so fast as his debut on 7/14 ended when he crossed the wire in 51.39 through 4.5 furlongs. The best way to sum that performance up is: Track Record. That was fast alright so it will be interesting to see just how far down the betting public will send him from his ML odds of 6-1.


So, there are 4 solid contenders not to mention the other 3 that have gone unmentioned.  Is there anything Special here? The field for Sunday’s G2 Saratoga Special


G2 Saratoga Special | 6 1/2 Furlongs | Purse $200,000 | Post 5:45 EDT

1 Lunarwarfare  J. Leyva  M. Yates 6-1
2 Ogermeister  J. Ortiz  W. Ward 12-1
3 Candy Dandy  R. Napravnik  S. Asmussen 3-1
4 Corfu  J. Velazquez  T. Pletcher 5-2
5 Twang  J. Rosario  A. Stall, Jr. 5-1
6 Danza  J. Castellano  T. Pletcher 8-1
7 Wired Bryan  S. Bridgmohan  M. Dilger 7-2


Finally, before I go, one last shout out (or repeat) to our new Hall of Fame rider Calvin Borel........... 




comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about The Saratoga Special...

He's by Dixie Union out of Spoken; if you're from "Dixie", then you might "speak" with a "Twang". I think it's pretty clever.
I think Twang has a good chance here. Claiborne is a class operation but it seems like they name their horses from a "Word of the Day" calendar.
Looks like a pretty special field for this year's Saratoga Special.

Related Pages



     Connect With Bryan

Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter



About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park, Henderson, KY. 


In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 



American Pharoah

Racing's 12th Triple Crown Winner

First Grand Slam Champion

Bob Mayberger / Eclipse Sportswire

Related Stories

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories