Anstu Stables' homebred Sanford Stakes (gr. II) and New York Breeders' Futurity winner Wired Bryan soundly trounced his fellow New York-breds at Belmont Park on Oct. 19, sailing away to a front-running score in the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes on Empire Showcase Day (VIDEO).
In the first of two juvenile stakes on the card, Miss Narcissist collected the $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma in similar front-running fashion under jockey Junior Alvarado for the partnership group of Acqua Nova Stable, Winter Park Partners, and Linda Rice. (VIDEO).
Heavily favored at odds of 3-10, Wired Bryan, a 2-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic , was hustled from the gate by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez from his outside post in a seven-horse field, and never faced a challenge as he sprinted through early fractions of :22.86 and :45.79 in the seven-furlong event.
Posting three-quarters in 1:09.93 while widening his advantage down the stretch, Wired Bryan cruised home by daylight in a final time of 1:22.83. Empire Dreams was second best three lengths back, while So Lonesome finished third by six lengths.
"He's been holding his form real well; he's been a consistent horse all year," winning trainer Michael Dilger said. "Johnny has ridden the horse, he's won on him, he's ridden against him and beaten him, he's been beaten by him—he's seen him from every angle. I told him to do whatever he thought was best."
Dilger credited Wired Bryan's rapid response to the break as a key for his success.
"The horse is always going to break sharp, it was just a matter of whether someone else wanted the lead or not," he said. "He's a naturally fast horse. I wasn't concerned about seven furlongs on a fast track. His recent works have shown he's progressing and maturing. We'll see how he is during the week and go from there. We'll winter in Florida, and who knows, maybe try to stretch him out (on the Triple Crown trail)."
"It wasn't a surprise, we have to expect that," Velazquez said. "This horse has been running against a lot better horses. Today we broke from the outside, just kind of let him run out of there, got to the lead, and tried to save some horse for the end."
Wired Bryan returned $2.60, $2.30, and $2.10, while Empire Dreams paid $5.20 and $3.30 with So Lonesome bringing $2.40. Sol the Freud, Fox Rox, Sing the Dream, and Captain Toews completed the order of finish. Carolinian scratched.
Wired Bryan has four wins and a second from six starts, his only off-the-board finish coming with a fifth in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) on a muddy track at Saratoga Race Course Sept. 2. He won the Sanford at Saratoga by 5 1/4 lengths July 21, and was second in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) by a nose. Last time out, he took the New York Breeders' Futurity by seven lengths.
Wired Bryan is out of the Runaway Groom mare Red Melody, and has now collected $537,474 in earnings.
Gimma winner Miss Narcissist, a daughter of Freud trained by Rice, earned her first stakes score off an Aug. 28 maiden win at Saratoga; she was fifth at Saratoga on Aug. 8 first time out.
"She was very, very fractious in the paddock and behind the gates the first time I ran her, but she had trained brilliantly," Rice said. "Junior breezed her for me last week, and I explained what she needs to get her to switch leads. She's learning, and I was very pleased with her today. She's been a project, and the gap from her maiden race to this race was two months, but it gave us enough to really work with her. She has raw talent, but she's hard to direct."
Alvarado turned in a good ride aboard Miss Narcissist, who rated along the inside showing the way to five others by about a length through an opening quarter in :23.11 and a half in :46.31. She kicked clear by 3 1/2 lengths through three-quarters in 1:11.10, and opened the gap to a 5 1/4-length margin on the line in a final time of 1:23.82. Favored Court Dancer (7-10) was second, and Canal Six finished third.
"She's not an easy filly to ride but Linda Rice had her perfectly ready for this race," Alvarado said. "My filly broke good, and (Court Dancer) broke good too, but I had to go to the lead. She relaxed after that. At the top of the stretch, I knew how much horse I had. Once she switched to her right lead, I knew we were in good shape. I don't think she will have any problems going long."
Sent off at odds of 5-1, Miss Narcissist paid $12.20, $4.20, and $3.20. Court Dancer brought $2.60 and $2.10, and Canal Six paid $3.80. Star Grazing, Champagne Ruby, and Daddy's Lil Saint completed the order of finish. Nutmeg scratched.
Miss Narcissist was bred by Tony Grey out of the Good and Tough mare Mighty Good, and was a $97,000 purchase by Stephen Di Mauro from the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training when consigned by Pike Racing. Her record now stands at two wins and a fifth from three starts, with earnings of $134,100.