Head to Head: Handicapping the 2021 Fourstardave

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2021 Fourstardave
Photo: Carlo Calo/Eclipse Sportswire

Saturday’s $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga attracted a lively field of older turf milers. Besides earning a Grade 1 victory on their resume, the winner earns a fees-paid berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 6 at Del Mar.

The race attracted a field of eight, including three mares. Got Stormy won this race two years ago but just could not run down winner Halladay last year, settling for second. Meanwhile, Raging Bull is looking for his first Fourstardave victory after finishing second to Got Stormy two years ago and fifth last year. The stakes are high and the competition is fierce this year, making for a bet-worthy race.

Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power and Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast weed out the contenders from the pretenders.

 

LAURIE

ASHLEY

1. Raging Bull

He was on the losing end of the photo in the Poker (G3) last out. He’ll have to make his run in a field with lone speed, but Raging Bull has hit the board in three of four starts at the Spa. The one start he didn’t was last year’s Fourstardave, where he encountered traffic trouble from post 1.  Brown and Ortiz win turf graded stakes at a 28% clip.

 

Raging Bull is quite good at the mile distance, and like Laurie pointed out, the 6-year old appreciates the Saratoga course. This will be his third shot at winning the Fourstardave; he was second to Got Stormy in 2019 and a troubled fifth last year. If you believe in patterns and/or signs, bear in mind Raging Bull broke from post 1 last year and drew the rail again this year. He has the class to win this, but it could be a tall task if someone does not keep Blowout honest on the lead.

2. Whisper Not (GB)

Whisper Not recorded his worst finish in over a year in the Shoemaker Mile, his first Grade 1 attempt. Baltas rarely ships, but when he does, his horses often hit the board. Add the jock upgrade to Jose Ortiz, and we have a live longshot.

 

Whisper Not has been a check cashing machine since debuting in the U.S. this past November. He finished an uncharacteristic fifth last out in the Shoemaker Mile (G1), and part of me wonders if jockey Geovanni Franco didn’t get a case of the yips. He has ridden a couple Grade 1 winners over the years, but it is far from a level of competition that he is used to. So with that said, I agree that the switch to Jose Ortiz makes Whisper Not a live longshot.

3. Daddy Is a Legend

Daddy Is a Legend hit the board in both starts this year, with an improved speed figure. Although she’s a Grade 1 winner, the George Weaver trainee finds a mile a little too short; she’s won once in ten tries at the distance.

 

Daddy Is a Legend typically shows up to run her race, only finishing worse than fourth on three occasions plus a DNF in the 2018 Pin Oak Valley View (G3) when she ducked through the rail at the start. This will be her first attempt against the boys, and all things considered, I have to pass.

4. Casa Creed

Casa Creed is in the best form of his career. He’s won his last two starts, but both were sprints. A mile is at the top of his distance range, and the Bill Mott trainee has only two wins from 11 starts at a mile.

 

I don’t have much to add, as Laurie seems to have covered the important aspects of Casa Creed. His best shot at winning this will be not letting Blowout get too far ahead while reserving some energy for the stretch to fend off the late charge of Raging Bull.

5. Set Piece

There’s a lot to like about Set Piece. He’s won his last four starts and owns the highest late-pace figure in the field. Plus, he’s conditioned by super trainer Brad Cox. The drawback is that Set Piece has won only two of five starts at a mile, and he’s moving up in class. 

 

Set Piece is in excellent form right now and handled his last class hike, from listed to Grade 2, just fine. My biggest concern is that Set Piece’s last race at Saratoga left a lot to be desired. Even though he was checked hard going into the first turn, he had plenty of opportunity to make up ground. Instead, he finished sixth of seven that day. Certainly worth a look in filling out the exotics.

6. Got Stormy

Got Stormy is a favorite of mine, and I was disappointed when she missed her second victory in the Fourstardave last year. She has finished off the board in two of three tries this year but had an excuse when Tyler Gaffalione lost his crop in the six-furlong Jaipur (G1). The Mark Casse trainee is back at the Spa, where she has finished in the money in all three starts.

 

When Got Stormy is good, she’s very good. Unfortunately, her form this year has not been as good as it was in 2019 and 2020. I would love to see her win the Fourstardave for the second time, but unless she vastly improves off that fifth in the Jaipur (G1), she will have to settle for a minor award. She does loves Saratoga, though, so that’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Fun fact: Got Stormy smashed the Saratoga track record for a mile on the turf in 2019 when becoming the first filly to win the Fourstardave.

7. Field Pass

Field Pass has hit the board in two of three starts on the Saratoga lawn. However, he doesn’t string together back-to-back wins, and his speed figures are a bit low for this group.

 

I do not see Field Pass as a Grade 1 type. He has checked in behind Raging Bull, Set Piece, and Whisper Not in his last five starts, and faces all three of those rivals here. His speed figures have dropped in his last two starts, so I will pass.

8.  Blowout (GB)

Blowout is the lone speed. She has hit the board in all 12 starts, and although she’s 0 for 3 at Saratoga, those defeats were by slim margins. The Chad Brown trainee gets a switch to Joel Rosario. This is a good thing because the pair have a win rate of 27% in turf graded stakes over the last five years.

 

As the lone speed, I think Blowout has a very good chance at upsetting this field. Her speed figures aren’t the best in the bunch and this will be her first attempt against the boys, but Chad Brown must think she is capable. She has just one race for the year, but she won it despite losing a big lead, showing determination and heart. Worth playing on top.

 

Final Thoughts

Laurie: The Fourstardave is a contentious field, and five of the eight entries have a legit shot at winning. I’m going with the lone speed here. Rosario can slow things down and have enough left in the tank to get the job done. I’m leaving Whisper Not out of my picks, but he’s a live longshot, and I’ll probably regret it.

Ashley: Man, oh man! It is not often that you get a filly or mare line up against the boys, let alone three in one race. I think this race sets up perfectly for Blowout, who is the lone speed. Raging Bull will have his work cut out for him, especially considering how much Got Stormy likes the Saratoga course. So I see Laurie’s mare on top and raise her two mares in the exacta and Whisper Not.


SELECTIONS

Laurie

      Ashley

#8 Blowout (6-1)

#8 Blowout (6-1)

#5 Set Piece (5-2)

#6 Got Stormy (10-1)

#1 Raging Bull (9-5)

#1 Raging Bull (9-5)

#6 Got Stormy (10-1)

#2 Whisper Not (20-1)

 

 



Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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