By Matt Shifman
The feature on Saturday is the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1), which is run at the distance of a mile on the inner turf course. Of course, the race is named for the legendary horse, Fourstardave, who won at least one race at Saratoga for an unbelievable eight years in a row from 1987 to 1994.
Nicknamed “The Sultan of Saratoga” his victories included 6 stakes races, two of them came in the Daryl’s Joy, which was the stake that was renamed in 1996 to honor the durable horse. In his career he raced 100 times with 21 wins, 18 seconds, and 16 thirds which led to total earnings of more than $1.6 million.
The New York-bred’s amazing run at Saratoga included the following nine wins.
- August 28, 1987 – Empire Stakes
- August 8, 1988 – Albany Stakes
- August 23, 1989 – West Point Handicap
- August 1, 1990 – Daryl’s Joy (G3)
- July 29, 1991 – Daryl’s Joy (G3)
- August 21, 1991 – West Point Handicap
- August 24, 1992 – Allowance
- August 16, 1993 – Handicap
- July 24, 1994 – Allowance
This year’s Fourstardave has drawn a very competitive field of six turf runners and one entered for the main track only. Amongst them is a new fan favorite in Voodoo Song, a Linda Rice trainee who last year won four straight races at Saratoga, but he is stepping up in class a bit.
“He has not proven to be a Grade 1 horse yet,” said Rice. “I think he has improved from 3 to 4 even though he won four in a row here. He went through his conditions, and he has gotten a couple of 100 Beyers. I do think we have seen improvement, but the races get tougher the more you win.”
The favorites in the race are likely to be Heart to Heart and Yoshida. Heart to Heart wins all over the country for trainer Brian Lynch and is just a neck shy of having strung together three Grade 1 victories. This confirmed turf miler will be battling on the front end with Voodoo Girl.
Yoshida, who is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, is one of four that will be running late. This Japanese-bred began 2018 with a big win in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs and then traveled to Royal Ascot to finish fifth in the prestigious Queen Anne Stakes (G1). If Yoshida can retain his top form after the trip overseas, he will be a formidable challenger.
Current leading trainer at the meeting Chad Brown has entered Made You Look, who is an improving turf horse. Brown runners are always dangerous on the grass.
“He’s doing well,” Brown said. “It’s a big step up for him. It’s a tough race, but the horse is training super. I thought he ran a great race last time out and it’s worth a shot.”
The Fourstardave Handicap is slated as race 8 on Saturday’s 11-race card with post-time scheduled for 5:02pm ET. The full field, with post-positions includes: 1-Weekend Hideaway (MTO), 2-Delta Princess, 3-Dividisero, 4-Made You Look, 5-Heart to Heart, 6- Voodoo Song, and 7-Yoshida.