The 32nd running of the Fourstardave will be the first time as a Grade 1 race. The $500,000 race over the Saratoga Inner Turf course at a one mile distance drew a field of nine (Weekend Hideaway is also entered as MTO). Post time on Saturday for the Fourstardave is 6:32 p.m. as the 10th race on a 11-race card at Saratoga Race Course.
Grand Arch (8-1), Jim and Susan Hill’s 7-year-old gelding will look to repeat his win in last year’s race. He finished second in the 2014 edition to Seek Again.
The race has drawn a quality field, including two horses from the red-hot Chad Brown barn in A Lot (12-1) and Takeover Target (7-2). The field includes the Oceanport winner (Blacktype, 10-1), the top two finishers in the Dixie (Takeover Target and Force the Pass, 8-1).
Here’s a look at the entries for the Fourstardave (post position, horse, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):
1 – Reporting Star (Voss, Carmouche, 20-1). Voss adds blinkers to the 6-year-old gelding by Circular Quay. His last two efforts are less to be desired after a win in the G3 Appleton at Gulfstream in April. He’s 4-for-7 at the distance, but will have to elicit a supreme effort just to hit the board against this group.
2 – Blacktype (Clement, Alvarado, 10-1). He gave a solid effort on a yielding Monmouth turf course on Haskell day to win the Oceanport. The cutback in distance shouldn’t be an issue for this late running French-bred. The 5-year-old son of Dunkerque runs back in two weeks time for Clement who is a master trainer on the turf. Considering.
3 – A Lot (Brown, Castellano, 12-1). When’s the last time you got Castellano-Brown on the turf at Saratoga at odds of 12-1. Yeah, me neither. The 4-year-old Tapit colt was coming late in the Jaipur on Belmont day and the fourth-place finish is deceiving if you are just looking at running lines. He has two second place finishes at the Spa, both coming in last year’s meet. Dangerous.
4 – Takeover Target (Brown, Franco, 7-2). After winning the Dixie on Preakness day, he returned to a dismal fourth-place finish in the G3 Joker at Belmont. Brown has him rested and cranked up for this one. Won last year’s G2 Hall of Fame ahead of his stable mate A Lot. He usually follows up his clunkers with big efforts, so based on the pattern he’s due for a big one.
5 – Grand Arch (Lynch, Saez, 8-1). The son of Arch runs his best on soft or yielding turf. Has a Grade 1 win on his resume in the 2015 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, and will be defending his 2015 Fourstardave victory. He hasn’t really fired since the BC Mile last fall at Keeneland.
6 – Tourist (Mott, Rosario, 5-2). The son of two time BC Classic winner Tiznow went out west to run in the Shoemaker Mile where he finished second behind Midnight Storm by one-half length. Won a non-graded stake on the grass at Saratoga last summer and has only missed the board twice in eight efforts at the mile distance. Solid favorite.
7 – King Kreesa (Donk, Ortiz Jr., 15-1). This New York-bred has fared well in the past, and proved he still has game in beating Force the Pass in last month’s Forbidden Apple at Belmont. Finished fourth by a length in last year’s edition of this race and has the meet leading rider in Irad aboard. It’s not out of the question.
8 – Weekend Hideaway (Serpe, Saez, 4-1). Entered for the Main Track Only (MTO) and hoping for a wash off the turf. He’s 4-for-5 on off tracks and the chestnut son of Speightstown will be the pick if we go off the turf.
9 – Force the Pass (Goldberg, Ortiz, 8-1). Has never been off the board in 11 career races, which is an amazing feat in itself. That streak includes six graded stake races. His last win, however, came in last year’s Belmont Derby on Independence Day. He enters third off the layoff on the form cycle for trainer Goldberg and has Jose Ortiz in the irons.
10 – Ring Weekend (Motion, Velazquez, 3-1). He was edged out by a neck in the G2 Dixie by Takeover Target at Pimlico in May. He has been out of the exacta only once in his last six races and won last year’s G3 Saranac at the Spa. The son of Tapit has solid connections who know how to win on the turf. Outside post could be an issue.
The race looks wide open so I’m going for an upset and the top connections of Castellano-Brown running late at a price.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – A Lot; 2 – Takeover Target; 3 – Force the Pass; 4 – Tourist
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.