Budding Turf Star Fiya Both Stakes & Sales-Bound Off Impressive Victory

July 22, 2020

LAUREL, Md. — It took a while to get Fiya to the races, and it took even longer to get him on the grass. For the connections, it has been well worth the wait.

Bred and owned by Ann Merryman and trained by her son, Michael, Fiya turned in one of the fastest performances of the year July 17 at Laurel, sprinting to a three-length allowance victory in 1:00.99, just .25 off the Exceller turf course mark set by Wet Your Whistle last April.

A gelded sophomore son of Friesan Fire, Fiya also earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, the second-highest number for a 3-year-old on grass this year. He earned an 82 for his five-length waiver maiden claiming romp going six furlongs on turf June 26, both wins coming over older horses and under jockey Feargal Lynch.

Fiya is a head away from leading at every call this year, duking it out through fractions of 21.75 and 43.85 seconds in his most recent effort before leaving the field behind. He is based at Pimlico Race Course but spends plenty of time at The Orebanks, the Merrymans’ farm located 20 minutes away in Sparks, Md.

“When he was a yearling and watching him go up on our turf course, any set he went with his stride on the turf was amazing and he was a standout,” Michael Merryman said. “In the wintertime you don’t have the option except to run on the dirt, but we knew he’d excel on the turf. He’s pretty talented on the dirt, too. We figured we’d get him some experience and turn him loose this year once turf season comes.

“I was very impressed with him last time. Some of the horses in there were the real deal and I told Feargal before the race, ‘We’re going to find out who he is today,’” he added. “We talked about not getting in a speed duel, when he got back to the winner’s circle I said, ‘What happened to not getting in a speed duel?’ But, the horse handled it great. He was pretty much under wraps the whole time.”

Fiya didn’t make his debut until late November, finishing third in a maiden claimer at Laurel, then came back to be second in a waiver maiden claimer just 14 days later. He got the rest of the winter off and then most of the spring when live racing was paused.

Had the timing been different, Merryman said Friday’s Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga Race Course would have been a target, “but we can’t wheel him back in a week.” He said the lucrative turf season in September at Kentucky Downs is another option.

Fiya wins Race 8 at Laurel Park on July 17, 2020

Merryman, 27, is hoping to be able to make that choice. Fiya is currently being listed at a starting bid of $100,000 on Wanamakers.com, an on-line auction site launched in June by his cousin, Liza Hendriks. The site is host to a monthly non-traditional auction where live bidding continues from when a catalogue goes live until the final day of the sale.

Fiya has the highest starting price of 11 horses catalogued for the sale. The catalogue went live July 22 and live bidding will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, July 30.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” Merryman said. “This is basically how my whole family has made their living throughout their careers. They breed a nice one, break their maiden and then find a number that they can live with. It would be bittersweet to lose this one, and part of me hopes that he doesn’t bring a number that works. But, no matter what, he is a special horse.”

Laurel Park Entries for Thursday, July 23

9-Race card, first post 12:40 p.m. ET


Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

Photo: Fiya wins his second straight race. Credit: Screen grab

Nice score King! @jonathanstettin Well played with the 4 singled on one ticket. 2 times! Big congrats.

Michael R. Snow (@theWynnDough) View testimonials