SOLID FIELD...MANY ANGLES & POSSIBILITIES
Grade II Fourstardave Highlights SPA Saturday Lineup
With apologies to the great day of racing lined up at Arlington Park for their annual "International Racing Festival" which includes the storied Grade I Arlington Million it is very possible that the Grade II Fourtardave Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, despite not being a Breeders' Cup Win & In Qualifier, might be as deep as the Illinois feature and could very well wind up sending a few of its graduates to Keeneland on Friday and/or Saturday, October 30 and 31.
In this one mile test to be run on the Inner Turf Course the field of 10 includes one main track only entrant and given Saturday's weather report and no late scratches we should see a contentious field of 9 older runners meet the starter. Eight of the nine runners have won a graded stakes race, two have won a Grade I and another trio are Grade I placed.
Further thickening the plot is the observation that eight of the nine have won on the turf at the mile distance. But then there is a flip side as only one of the nine, the suddenly emerging NY bred King Kreesa with 4 tries on the Spa grass has raced here more than once while three will be making their Saratoga turf debut.
Even the best Saratoga handicappers and players will have to go deep in this contest if they are going to construct either horizontal or vertical, so let's take a look at the 9 runners (skipping MTO entry Weekend Hideaway) set to go postward on Saturday.
MSHAWISH (7-2) - After winning three straight this winter at Gulfstream including the Grade I Gulfstream Park Handicap the Todd Pletcher trained son of Medaglia D'Oro traveled to the desert in late March and finished a bang up third to in the Group I Dubai Turf to Solow, a horse who just son his eighth straight race after following the Dubai Turf triumph with wins in the group I Queen Anne and Group I Sussex, which gave him an automatic bid to the BC Mile Turf at Keeneland. Mshaswish is certainly flattered by that one and has worked very well as he prepares to make his first start since the 3/28 Dubai Turf. The 5-year old has won 4 of 8 at the distance and has the services of Pletcher top pilot John Velazquez and has to be considered a major player.
GRAND ARCH (10-1) - A too brief look at his last two, in which he missed hitting the board might dissuade players from considering the 6-year old Brian Lynch trained son of Arch. However, a bit deeper look don the PP's also shows a horse that was beaten a neck by Seek Again in this race last year, was a winner at a mile on the Keeneland turf in mid-April as well as a length beaten second at Keeneland last October in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile behind the all-but-invincible Wise Dan. The horse has hit the board in 7 of 10 mile turf tries and a return to his back form and class can't be ruled out.
IRONICUS (4-1) - The Shug McCaughey 4-year old Distorted Humor colt has moved quickly through allowance conditions and pulled the upset in his first graded stakes try when he conquered the GII Dixie on the Preakness under card before tuning up for this with a third level allowance win at Belmont on July 8. He continues to work forwardly and though this will be another slight rise in class he could very well take another step forward under Javier Castellano who has been aboard for the last four races.
KING KREESA (3-1) - The NY bred son of King Cugat has demerged as a quite useful stakes runner as he has stepped away from restricted foes and won the Grade III Poker and the $150K Forbidden Apple Stakes, each at today's mile distance. He finished in front of Wicked Strong in the Forbidden Apple and has stayed in front of the rallying Vyjack (3rd and 2nd respectively in those last two) an it is likely he will utilize his tactical speed once again to either make or press the pace dearly on. Like a few others in here this is a class test, but his current form indicates he is ready to make the move under regular rider Jose Ortiz.
SEEK AGAIN (6-1) - It is seldom you would find a multiple graded stakes winner, grade I winner and defending champ set with a morning line of 6-1 but since winning this raced a year ago the Bill Mott trainee has hit the board just once in four tries and has been beaten by a few rivals he'll meet again on Saturday. Under objective considerations his off-form tries of late would be toss-out signs but the conditioner does not keep them on the track if he feels they have gone wrong and the 5-year old's tactical rally for third in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita in his last (in mid-June) might be a sign he is about to regain that past good form.
GRAND TITO (20-1) - The veteran Candy Ride horse has more often than not outrun this kind of ML price with 8 in the money finishes in his last 10 races, including a pair of wins. And those contending positions have come when he competed in 7 graded stakes races. The 5-year old has good tactical speed and with the lack of any true early burners it wouldn't be a surprise to see lesser-known jock Raphael Hernandez, while only having a single winner at the meet headed into Thursday racing with 17 on the board rides from 33 races find his way there once more. Even at the price having this guy b in the exotic is far from a pipe dream.
VYJACK (6-1) - The second of the uncoupled Bill Mott entry the 5-year old gelding seems to have found a fondness for the lawn after competing on the main track or the first 19 races of his career. An early developer he was on the Triple Crown trail after a series of prep race wins at Aqueduct but never made it over the top while remaining a useful competitor in a series of secondary stakes races the last two years. The son of Into Mischief was making up ground in each his two turf races in his last pair finishing just behind King Kreesa on each occasion. It is also noteworthy that Mott skipped the much softer spot in last weekend's ungraded Lure Strakes to go here.
JACK MILTON (6-1) After finishing a strong third (beaten a neck for it all) in the Grade I Turf Classic at CD on the Derby undercard the 5-year old War front horse was beaten 5 lengths in the Grade I Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Freshened since by Todd Pletcher, who has an uncoupled entry in here, the horse has worked well three times over the Spa grass in preparation for the return. Pletcher is no stranger to layoff success, winning with 25% of such runners and his charge won the Grade I Makers Mile on the Keeneland turf in April off a similar break. Just one more that deepens the contention, especially under the guidance of accomplished American Pharoah pilot Victor Espinoza if indeed he remains.
SKYRING (30-1) - If there is one horse for which it is difficult to find support it is this 6-year old horse that has failed to hit the board in seven straight tries (all in graded stakes and all on the turf) in a non-streak that began in the Turf Classic on the 2014 Kentucky derby undercard. But of course there is always the inexplicable with this guy's trainer, one D Wayne Lukas.
Great betting race with the winning combo bound to pay off well. Your move.