07/21/2013 6:19PM

Saratoga: Wired Bryan takes Sanford to give Dilger first stakes win

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Tom Keyser
Wired Bryan, with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, won the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths Sunday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Wired Bryan, the only New York-bred in the field, gave trainer Michael Dilger the first graded stakes winner and the first stakes victory of any kind in his brief career when drawing off to a convincing 5 1/4-length decision over the 22-1 Southern Blessing in Sunday’s $200,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga.

Dilger, an assistant for trainer Todd Pletcher for seven years before striking out on his own this season, had started only 15 horses and won just two races prior to the Grade 2 Sanford. One of those tallies came with Wired Bryan in a New York-bred maiden race at Belmont Park on June 19.

As was the case in his debut, Wired Bryan broke alertly and showed good speed from the start, taking the early advantage while racing along the inside under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. Wired Bryan was headed by Hollywood Talent leaving the half-mile pole but regained the lead while saving ground into the stretch.

He then steadily extended his advantage over his five overmatched rivals while kept under steady urging to the end.

Southern Blessing was slow to begin and lagged at the rear of the field for nearly five furlongs, then rallied to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of the tiring Hollywood Talent. All in Blue finished fourth following an unlucky trip that began when he stumbled badly at the start.

Debt Ceiling, who entered the six-furlong Sanford undefeated in three starts and as the only graded stakes winner in the field, faltered badly after a half-mile and was eased to the wire.

Wired Bryan, a homebred son of Stormy Atlantic, earned his owners, Antsu Stables Inc., a $100,000 bonus for having won a maiden race and a graded stakes in New York in the same year. He paid $16.40.

“He was my first winner, my first stakes runner, my first stakes winner, and my first graded stakes winner,” said a hoarse but very happy Dilger. “We decided to run him in this race because there was really no place to run him. He’s a New York-bred, and there are no restricted stakes races for him until later in the year, and the timing fit to run him here.”

Dilger said he was a little concerned when Wired Bryan was temporarily displaced on the lead early in the race by Hollywood Talent.

“I told Shaun to be close, and if he was on the lead, that’s fine,” Dilger said. “That early speed is his weapon, and I told him to let him do what’s natural for him. I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous when he got headed, when Joel [Rosario] came up on his outside, but Shaun came back and said he’s not a one-dimensional horse; he can rate if we needed, so we’re learning about him as we go along.”