Fourstardave may not have won at the highest level throughout his 100-race career, but what the hardy gelding did win was the people of Saratoga’s hearts. Dubbed “The Sultan of Saratoga” by his adoring fans, the New York-bred won a race at Saratoga each year from 1987 to 1994. Following his retirement, Fourstardave was given an edible key to the city at Siro’s Restaurant in Saratoga, had a small lane renamed “Fourstardave Way” in his honor and also had the Daryl’s Joy Stakes, which he had won twice, renamed the Fourstardave Handicap. After his death in 2002, he was buried in Clare Court at Saratoga.
On Saturday, the Fourstardave Handicap (GI) will be run for just the second time as a Grade I event. Leading the field of seven is the Chad Brown-trained Time Test, who is owned by Juddmonte Farms Inc. The son of Dubawi began his career in Europe under the care of Roger Charlton. While he was never able to crack the top level during his time in Europe, Time Test did win four group races over there.
Since coming to America, Time Test has finished second in the Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) and the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1). The 5-year-old will be cutting back to a mile for the first time since 2015, when he finished 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland after having won the Shadwell Joel Stakes (G2) at a mile the race before. Recent Hall-of-Fame inductee Javier Castellano has the mount.
The second choice on the morning line is the 6-furlong world record-holder on turf, Disco Partner, trained by Christophe Clement and owned by Patricia Generazio. Saturday’s race will be just the third time the son of Disco Rico has raced past seven furlongs and only his second time around two-turns. Disco Partner is undefeated in three starts this year after being transferred to Clement’s barn (the 5-year-old was trained by James Ryerson in his first 15 starts).
In his most recent try, Disco Partner stretched out to a mile in the Forbidden Apple Stakes and won easily, but that was a one-turn mile as opposed to the two turns he will face in the Fourstardave.
A late addition to the field, the Brad Cox-trained Sassy Little Lila will be taking on the boys for the first time in her eight-race career. Owned by Sheep Pond Partners and Mike Ryan, the four-year-old daughter of Artie Schiller has not run at Saratoga since breaking her maiden in her third career start last year. Sassy Little Lila has never won a stakes race in three attempts, but she was second in all three races by a combined margin of just over a length — with two of those races being Grade I affairs.
The only time the filly has finished worse than second was when she was sixth, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths, in her debut. Despite being the only female in Saturday’s field, Sassy Little Lila has two big advantages over her rivals — one being that she is getting 7-9 pounds from every horse except for the main-track-only (MTO) entrant, the other being that she looks like the lone speed on paper.
Rounding out the field are the Grade I winners World Approval and American Patriot, Grade III winner Ballagh Rocks and the MTO entrant Weekend Hideaway.
The $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap is carded as the 10th race on the Saratoga program with an approximate post time of 6:28 pm ET.