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Upgrade Steps Up For Fourstardave

Saratoga Race Course 2012 logo
Photo: NYRA

Upgrade, who will step up in class for the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 11, breezed five furlongs on the main track this morning in 1:01.20 with his trainer, Michelle Nihei, aboard.

 

The Fourstardave, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, will be Upgrade’s first start since he won the Grade 3, seven-furlong Jaipur by three-quarters of a length on June 8 at Belmont Park.

 

“We’ve been pointing him to this race all along,” said Nihei. “We’re confident it’s the right race for him. We just want to make sure he’s in the right company. We like 6 ½ [furlongs], seven, even 7 ½. I think a mile is the limit of how far that horse wants to go, but he’s doing so well right it’d be tough to find a race to say, ‘You know, let’s just wait until the next opportunity.’ He hasn’t run since the Jaipur, and he wasn’t easy to even work this morning.”

 

Upgrade, who raced for Chad Brown and Scott Volk earlier in his career, made his debut for Nihei in March, holding on to win a one-mile optional claimer in March at Gulfstream Park. He entered the Jaipur off a fifth in Belmont’s Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May, a race in which Boisterous defeated Desert Blanc by one length.

 

“[The Fourstardave] isn’t going to be a walkover; it’s going to be the toughest race he’s had ever, but I think he’s realistically competitive,” said Nihei.

 

Prince Will I Am, the 2010 Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap winner, is gearing up for a comeback race at Saratoga later in the meet. A three-time graded stakes winner who is unraced since finishing ninth in the 2011 Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap, Prince Will I Am breezed four furlongs on the main track in 49.48 on July 30.

 

“I was hoping we’d make the John’s Call [on August 3], but we didn’t make it in time,” said Nihei. “We’re crossing our fingers we can find an allowance or overnight stakes that is logistically reasonable for us to get to.”

 

While Nihei glowed about Prince William I Am’s progress, she also admitted she doesn’t know what to expect in his return race, considering the lengthy layoff.

 

“When he came to me in May of his 2-year-old year, he never left the barn,” said Nihei. “So even if there are some lines between races, he really never left training. He might have not raced for a while, he might have not worked for a while, but he’s always been at the racetrack. Sending him home was the right thing to do, but even Susan Atkins, his owner, said he needs to be on the racetrack. He looks for activity and wants to be part of something.”

 

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