The Fourstardave Handicap (Grade 1)- $500.000 Purse
SAR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Inner Turf
August 11, 2018
This Saturday at the Spa, we will have the 15th running of the Fourstardave Handicap, which is run at a mile on the inner turf. The race has changed a lot since Alpha Ultimo won the first ever running of the race, doing so while he was still a three year old. Back then, it was a Grade 2, run at a mile and a sixteenth, and just a $200.000 race. There would even be a period that followed that saw the purse only go for $150.000, but things changed in 2012, as the race was cut to a mile, and the purse increased to the current level. In 2016, the race was classified as a Grade 1 for the first time. Weights for this race will range between 118 and 121 pounds, and there will be eight going to the gate, including the reigning BC Mile winner, Ingrained. More on his story in a bit. Let’s meet all of them!
#1- Stormy Bello (Joshua Stables, ridden by R W Wolcott)- Made his debut last month for Joshua Stables in the Grade 3 AP Handicap, and rewarded the trainer’s confidence with a third place run at odds of 85/1. He had just been acquired in the June auction, for $12.030, and while there had been a couple graded stakes he ran in previously, it was an impressive run for the eight year old in his 45th start. His last three races going exactly a mile on the grass have resulted in wins, but they were not against this type of competition.
#2- Cobra Skull (John Henry, ridden by E Cancel)- A few days after Joshua Stables bought Stormy Bello in the auction, John Henry acquired this one in private sales, for $101.000. So far he has enjoyed running in his new silks, as he is a perfect two-for-two. One them is a stake win, as he would be victorious in the Bid at BEL, which is part of the NY Stallion Series. He had run well prior to the sale, too, placing third in the PEN Mile on soft turf. That’s his only graded attempt to this point, and he won’t have the amazing F Pennington aboard this time, though he has won twice with E Cancel.
#3- Apollos Gold- Scratched
#4- Ingrained (Mb Stables, ridden by T C Baze)- In November at DMR, Ingrained became a BC Champion, winning the BC Mile in what was a historic day for trainer Mb Stables. So, would you have believed at that time, that Ingrained would not run in another graded stake after that victory until now? It is true, as he has only run in open allowances since then. Five of them, and no wins. Perhaps it would fair to critique Ingrained as a one-hit wonder until he does something else big in his career. A win here would erase that label and remind everyone that he is a BC Champion. His recent speed figures do not really impress, but perhaps he just needs to be running against the best to show his best ability.
#5- Devil Six (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by Alan Garcia)- Saturday will be an interesting day for the trainer, as he will have two large purchases from Maxmillion Farm going in big races. His $800.000 investment, The Joker, runs in the AP Million, and then there’s Devil Six, who was acquired in the June auction for $401.000 going here. They have had one race together, and that was a fourth place effort at the Grade 2 Read Stakes, making a late bid from off the pace. He won’t necessarily utilize that tactic here.
#6- The Hand Youre Dealt (Mb Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- In addition to Ingrained, Mb Stables sends The Hand Youre Dealt to the starting gate as he looks to cross off the Fourstardave from the list of races he has not won yet. The General Motors gelding has been very consistent over his career, including an impressive run of in the money finishes (14 of 16). Only recently has he been trying the grass, but a second place performance in the Shoemaker Mile showed he enjoyed it. He didn’t follow that up as well as I would have liked to have seen, but he can bounce back here.
#7- Expressly (Nakamura Stables, ridden by A J Court)- While others in this field were acquired in the auction or in private sales, Expressly has become an outstanding claim. In April, Nakamura claimed an at the time unheralded horse for just $20.000, and put him back on the grass. He had been there before, but was taken off of it. Expressly has gone two for two under the guidance of Nakamura, including a very impressive win in the AP Handicap last month. That was a strong field, beating a few in here as well as one running in the AP Million. If there is a question mark on him, it may be if this race will be just a bit too short for him, but he should be one of the top choices in here.
#8- Nice Dive (Threshold, ridden by C Landeros)- So many in this field seemed to change ownership hands during the month of June, and Nice Dive is no exception. He was acquired by Threshold from Smokey Stover as a part of that stable’s downsizing. He still has not raced for his new owner, so his last time out on the track was in late May, running third in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile. Smokey Stover did a tremendous job with this Well Informed gelding, and I like that he is on the low end of the weights for this race. Intriguing.
#9- Bandito (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by G Boulanger)- At first glance, his 2-for-13 career record is not going to impress anyone. He spent much of this year on the KYD trail, and while he was never badly beaten, that did not amount to much, as he never hit the board in any of them. Once that was done, he was moved to the grass, and was third in the MTH Stakes. A month later, in the Grade 1 United Nations, a valiant come from behind bid saw him get up for fourth. Worked very nicely here in late July, and this could make him a sleeper in this field.