Malibu Moon's 2-year-old colt Corfu stepped to the head of his division with a thrilling victory in the $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2), holding off Wired Brian by a nose. The triumph was similar to his July 25 debut at Saratoga, a hard-fought, half-length win.
Corfu is Malibu Moon's second 2-year-old stakes horse of the weekend, along with Madly Truly, who was third in Saturday's $125,000 Ontario Debutante at Woodbine. With $7.14 million in progeny earnings to date, Malibu Moon is the #1 Sire by North American earnings for 2013.
Firing quickly out of the gate in the Special, Corfu had Wired Brian pressing the issue immediately. Corfu pulled slightly clear to lead by 1 ½ lengths after an opening quarter-mile in :21.62 seconds. Wired Bryan re-engaged Corfu on the turn as the stage was set for the stretch duel
With Wired Bryan to his outside, Corfu dug deep as John Velazquez urged his colt for his best effort. Corfu was up to the task as the pair raced as one to the line, with Corfu getting his nose down first in the last stride. The final time for 6 ½ furlongs for 1:15.57, lowering the stakes mark by .10 seconds and earning a very respectable Beyer Speed Figure of 82.
"For having just one race and to come back to perform the way he did today, I am proud," said Velazquez. "He held on after going as fast as they were going all the way around. You've got to take your hat off to him when the horse keeps running like that. We knew he is fast. That's the way he won the first time out. We were hoping to get a little bit of a break, but we didn't. We were rolling all the way around with the other horse next to me."
"I thought (Wired Bryan) certainly would have been one of the horses, if not the horse, to beat," said trainer Todd Pletcher after his first Saratoga Special victory. "(Wired Bryan) ran a courageous race; we were just on the fortunate side of the head bob."
Owned by Derrick Smith, Michael B. Tabor, and Mrs. John Magnier, Corfu earned $120,000 for the win and has amassed $168,000 to date.
A star on the track, Corfu stole the limelight at the Barretts March 2-year-olds in Training sale, where he would be the sales topper, purchased by Demi O'Byrne on behalf of his owners for $675,000.
"We've liked (Corfu) all along since we purchased him at Barretts," said Pletcher. "We felt like he was a very fast horse there, and we felt like he was a precocious 2-year-old. We're happy to get him started here and happy to have him win first time out. We were monitoring pretty closely how he bounced out of his maiden race and just wanted to decide whether we could turn him back on fairly short rest. He came back with a very good breeze, and I felt like that was the answer we were looking for. Luckily, he showed up today and had enough to hold on in a pretty fast race."
Pletcher added that Corfu will be considered for the Grade 1 Hopeful S., also at Saratoga, on September 2.