08/11/2013 5:51PM

Saratoga Special: Corfu sets blistering pace, wins by a nose

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Barbara D. Livingston
Corfu (right) wins the Grade 2 Saratoga Special by a nose over Wired Bryan on Sunday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Corfu has shown in a very short span that he’s got two qualities any trainer loves to see in a racehorse: blazing speed and a ton of heart.

Racing for the second time in 17 days, Corfu set a lively pace, then withstood a stretch-long duel to register a game nose decision over the previously undefeated Wired Bryan in Sunday’s $200,000 Saratoga Special.

The win was the fourth on the card for trainer Todd Pletcher, whose Danza also finished a fast-closing third in the Special, and the fifth for jockey John Velazquez.

Corfu, a son of Malibu Moon, had debuted with a similarly resilient half-length decision over Pure Sensation in a five-furlong maiden special weight dash July 25. And as was the case in his first start, Corfu sped right to the lead and set lively fractions, posting splits of 21.62 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.02 for the half, with Sanford winner Wired Bryan forcing the issue from the outset.

Wired Bryan gradually inched closer while leaving the furlong grounds but could not get past the leader, narrowly missing his third straight win and his second graded stakes score in three weeks. Danza finished full of run along the inside to be third, a half-length back.

Corfu completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.57 over a fast track and paid a surprising $15.

“I thought Wired Bryan would be one of the horses to beat,” Pletcher said. “He ran a courageous race. We just happened to be on the fortunate side of the head bob.

“We’ve liked this horse all along. We felt he was a precocious 2-year-old, and we’re happy to have him win first time out. We monitored pretty closely how he bounced out of his maiden race to decide if we could turn him back on very short rest. He came back with a very good breeze, and I thought like that was the answer we were looking for. Luckily, he had enough to hold on today in a pretty fast race.”

Pletcher said he would consider running Corfu back again in the Grade 1 Hopeful here on closing day, Sept. 2.

Wired Bryan is trained by Michael Dilger, who served as an assistant to Pletcher before striking out on his own this year.