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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Lea Gearing Up for Wise Dan Rematch in Fourstardave

Saratoga 2013 logo.

Trainer Al Stall Jr. sent out rising graded stakes winner Lea for a four-furlong work in 48.60 seconds on the Oklahoma turf course Monday morning as part of his preparation for a run in the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10.


Lea, 4-for-7 lifetime with a victory over a strong field in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes last November at Churchill Downs, likely will face Horse of the Year Wise Dan for the second straight time in the Fourstardave, a prospect Stall doesn’t exactly relish.


Wise Dan beat Lea by two lengths in the Grade 2, $150,000 Firecracker Handicap on June 29 over yielding turf at Churchill Downs. Lea showed an affinity for the Saratoga turf last summer, breaking his maiden in a 1 1/16-mile race by three lengths July 21 and then coming back to win a 1 1/8-mile turf race by 1 ¾ lengths August 30.


Lea opened his campaign with an allowance win this year and then ran into Wise Dan.


“We ran in a couple races before coming to New York, and unfortunately Wise Dan is running at this level,” Stall said. “We’d sure like to get a firm turf course like he caught last year [here], just because of how well he ran. We were doing a little bobbing ourselves over that course at Churchill Downs. It wasn’t the course’s fault; it was the weather.


“He’s in good shape,” Stall said of Lea. “He’ll be ready to go.”

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Steeplechase Thursdays kick off on July 25 with the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, one of two Saratoga races for steeplechasing’s rising-star division. A field of 12 was entered for the 2 1/16-mile race over national fences, with the Jonathan Sheppard-trained entry of Martini Brother, winner of a Radnor Hunt allowance hurdle in May, and Powerofone, a two-time winner this spring, listed at 3-1 on the morning line.

Another emerging star is Clorevia Farm’s Dr. Skip, who has won his two career starts over fences by daylight. He most recently won a Parx Racing optional allowance by seven lengths on June 25 and is part of a 7-2 entry with Extraextraordinary.

Rounding out the field are Barnstorming, Forgotten Man, Alajmal, Kingdom, Sulwaan, Constant Contact, Sharp Numbers, and Bodie Island.



*          *          *


The Saratoga Springs Public Library is presenting “An Evening with Tom Durkin,” on Wednesday, July 24. The free program in the H. Dutcher Community Room begins at 7 p.m.


Durkin, NYRA’s track announcer since 1990, will discuss the 1988 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, which he considers to be the greatest day in American Thoroughbred racing history. All seven races – called by Durkin for NBC – will be shown during the program.


*          *          *


Former trainer John M. “Jack” Bradley died in Loudon, Tenn. on Sunday, July 21, said his daughter, Shan Koehler. He was 83.


Bradley, who grew up near Belmont Park, became a jockey at the age of 15, and after serving in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War, returned to the racetrack. After working as a hotwalker, groom, and assistant trainer, he took out his trainer’s license and won more than 2,000 races in New York, Florida, Maryland, Louisiana and Illinois before retiring in 2010.


Predeceased by his wife, Sue, Bradley is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Shan and Bob Koehler; his son, Kelley Bradley; four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and his brother and sister-in-law, Frank and Catherine Bradley.


Donations can be made to the Tellico Village Community Church, 130 Chota Center, Loudon, TN 37774.


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