Last year's Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) winner Corfu will try to end a three-race skid when he faces an expected field of seven other 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park.
Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith's Corfu received a short break after finishing fifth in the James F. Lewis III Stakes Nov. 16 at Laurel Park. That effort marked a third straight stakes race in which the son of Malibu Moon failed to win as the post-time favorite, a stretch that did include a runner-up finish in the Futurity Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
After successfully launching his career at Saratoga last summer with a debut victory and a triumph in the Saratoga Special, trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping that Corfu, a $675,000 purchase at the Barrett's 2-year-olds-in-training sale last March, will turn things around with the addition of blinkers.
"Nothing seemed to go right," Pletcher said of Corfu's most recent start. "He didn't get away real well, and I think he's a horse that needs to be up close or on the lead. So we put some blinkers on him for this and try to take advantage of his speed and let him do his thing."
Corfu, the 5-2 morning-line favorite who'll be ridden by Javier Castellano, may be joined in the starting gate by stablemate Trail Blaze, who is coming off a sharp 4 3/4-length victory in his debut at Aqueduct on Nov. 20.
"We entered in a non-winners of one other than (allowance) that did not fill, so we opted to take a look," Pletcher said. "He was pretty impressive his first time out and I think he certainly ran fast enough to fit (in this race). The concern would be to go from a maiden to a stake, seeing how much seasoning the other horses have."
Hollywood Talent, rated third in the morning line at 4-1, won his debut at Keeneland in April with Joel Rosario aboard before finishing second in the Bashford Manor gr. III) at Churchill Downs and third in the Sanford (gr. II) at Saratoga. After a fifth in a Presque Isle stakes, the son of Talent Search rebounded with a 3 1/2-length victory at Parx last time out.
Making the short trip south from Tampa Bay Downs for Saturday's six-furlong sprint will be Savoy Stable's Cool Cowboy, pegged at 5-1. The Kodiak Kowboy colt who improved to 2-for-2 on dirt with a clear victory in the Inaugural Stakes Dec. 7 at Tampa. Cool Cowboy, who made his first three starts on Polytrack, has won three of five races overall.
$100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes (race 10, approximate post time 5:03 p.m. EST) 3YO, 6F
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Just Call Kenny (VA), J. Bravo, 116, P. McBurney
2. Trail Blaze (KY), J. Lezcano, 116, T. Pletcher
3. Corfu (KY), J. Castellano, 122, T. Pletcher
4. C. Zee (FL), E. Zavas, 116, S. Gold
5. Cool Cowboy (KY), E. Perez, 120, D. Bennett
6. Giancarlo (KY), E. Trujillo, 116, E. Loza Jr.
7. Hollywood Talent (PA), J. Rosario, 116, W. Ward
8. Elusive Blueboy (KY), J. Alvarez, 120, R. Nicks
Blinkers On: Corfu