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Lea to Challenge Wise Dan Again in Fourstardave

Wise Dan wins 2013 Firecracker at Churchill Downs.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

He already upset one of the most popular and successful horses in recent memory when Blame beat Zenyatta, and next weekend trainer Al Stall will take on another one in reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

 

Stall will send out Lea to challenge the multiple Eclipse Award winner in the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10. Lea closed to finish second to Wise Dan, beaten two lengths, in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on June 29 at Churchill Downs.

 

"We did it last time," Stall said of facing Wise Dan. "If we were dumb enough to do it last time, we're dumb enough to do it again. We just have a schedule we're trying to stick with."

 

Blame won the inaugural running of the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga in 2009 and went on to earn three Grade 1 victories, none more dramatic than his head triumph in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic over Zenyatta, the only loss of her 20-race career.

 

"Obviously, we knew who Zenyatta was, but you just worry about your horse," Stall said. "You can't be distracted by what they're doing every five minutes. You just kind of do your thing and what happens on the track happens. The horse comes first. You make sure everything's good and just kind of enjoy it."

 

On Saturday, Stall enjoyed an impressive performance by his Departing, who rolled to an 8 ¾-length victory in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. The 3-year-old War Front colt was scheduled to arrive back in Saratoga early Sunday afternoon.

 

Departing has been stabled with Stall in Saratoga since mid-July and had three solid works over the track preparing for his first start since finishing sixth in the May 17 Preakness.

 

"He's sure come our way lately," Stall said. "He had trained really well going into it, and he fired."

 

Stall has recent maiden winner Twang nominated to the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on August 11, and plans to nominate Central Banker to the Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop on August 24.

 

Central Banker returned from an eight-month layoff to win the $100,000 Smirnoff Sorbet Quick Call, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint, by 3 ¾ lengths on July 25. The King's Bishop is contested at seven furlongs on dirt.

 

"He came out of the race fine, and he'll work midweek," Stall said of Central Banker. "We'll just play it by ear, but he's in good shape. We just wanted to get him back in the game. He had trained great, but you just never know. He'd been off so long. Maybe coming from turf and going over to dirt might eliminate the bounce, so to speak. Stretching him from 5 ½ to seven furlongs might work out for him also."

 

 

 

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