Robert Masiello’s Fiya pushed his win streak to five with a dominating gate-to-wire win in the $90,000 Claiming Crown Canterbury Stakes at Gulfstream Park Saturday, Dec. 5.
Making his first start at the Florida track, Fiya broke cleanly from the inside post and took over the lead as he ran the 12-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in :22.15, with Fully Loaded stalking from the outside in second. As they turned for home, Fiya opened up down the stretch to win by a length and a half over Fully Loaded, with Harry’s Ontheloose rallying for third. After a half-mile in :44.08, final time for the five furlongs on the turf was :55.63.
The 3-year-old gelding hasn’t finished worse than third since his career debut last November, improving his record to 5-1-1 from seven career starts with $184,396 earned.
"He really is an incredible turf horse, since we've seen him go from dirt to turf, he just does things so easily,” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “From the first day I got him in the barn, I fell in love with him. He got my attention right away and looked like a superstar."
Making his first four career starts at Laurel, the turf star kicked off his career last year on the dirt, where he finished third on debut and followed-up a month later with a second-place finish to Whiskey and You in December. Returning this June after a nearly seven-month break, Fiya broke his maiden on the turf by a solid five lengths in a six-furlong waiver maiden to kick off his 3-year-old season.
Stepping up to allowance company on July 17, Fiya made headlines as he rocketed to a three-length victory in 1:00.99 for five and a half furlongs on the turf, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure and sitting just .25 off Laurel’s Exceller turf course mark. It was his final start for owner/breeder Ann Merryman, and trainer Michael Merryman, who consigned him to the Wanamaker’s July Online Auction, where he was purchased for $400,000 by Robert Masiello and sent to Albertrani’s barn in New York.
Debuting for his new connections Sept. 20 at Belmont Park, Fiya won by three and a quarter lengths in a six-furlong turf allowance and earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure with his final time of 1:06.70, tying for the fastest 3-year-old on the grass this year. His success continued with a victorious stakes debut in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint Handicap Oct. 24 against older runners, where he returned to Laurel to beat stakes winner So Street by two and a quarter lengths as he finished the five and a half furlongs in 1:03.56.
“Every time he runs, he just seems to run better and better. I think we'll give him a break now and bring him back later next year,” Albertrani said.
Fiya is the third foal from Sista, a daughter of Two Punch, who was bred/owned by Ann Merryman and Laura M. McKinney. Out of four foals produced, Sista has one winner from two starters, and currently has a yearling filly by Holy Boss. The mare, who splits time as a broodmare and a foxhunter, has been out with Elkridge-Harford, Mt. Carmel and others.
Read more about the Claiming Crown Canterbury Stakes here