Uni & Got Stormy renew rivalry in Fourstardave Handicap (G1)
Got Stormy will take on reigning Champion Turf Female Uni as she looks to defend her title in the 36th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 22.
The one mile event over the inner turf for 3-year-olds and upward is a Breeders' Cup "Win And You're In" event which offers an automatic entry towards the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Keeneland on November 7.
||Raging Bull (FR)
||Without Parole (GB)
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Trained by Mark Casse, Got Stormy will seek to become the first back-to-back winner of the Fourstardave since two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan scored back to back victories in 2012-13. Got Stormy put together a sensational campaign last season, included a 2 ½-length victory in the Fourstardave in which she became the race's first female winner, posting a track record time of 1:32 flat while registering a 109 Beyer Speed Figure.
The daughter of 2010 Fourstardave winner Get Stormy was a hard fought second to Uni two starts later in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita before capping off her season with a win in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar.
Got Stormy will look to end a streak of four straight losses. In her most recent start, she was fourth beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Grade 3 Poker going one mile over the Widener turf at Belmont Park.
"She's training well and she's back to Saratoga, which is where she did her best running last year, so we're hoping for the best," Casse said. "We know she likes that course, we know that she likes firm turf. She's got to come with her A game. She's the same horse, she looks great and trains great. She's just been a little bit unlucky. She ran over some good turf courses and she wants it to be really firm."
Regular rider Tyler Gaffalione will return to the saddle as he attempts a sixth stakes win of the meet from post 4.
Eclipse Award-winner Uni, one of four runners for trainer Chad Brown along with Raging Bull, Valid Point and Without Parole, will attempt to replicate her form from last year when making her second start of 2020. Uni, who was third in last year's Fourstardave, rounded out the trifecta as the favorite in her seasonal bow under Joel Rosario in the Grade 1 Just a Game on June 27 at Belmont Park, where she finished 3 ½ lengths to stablemate Newspaperofrecord.
The 6-year-old daughter of More Than Ready was named Champion Turf Female last year following victories in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile against colts at Santa Anita, where she registered a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure.
"She missed some time with a splint issue, and we stopped breezing for five or six weeks," said Bradley Weisbord of BSW/Crow Bloodstock, who manages Uni on behalf of owners Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert V. LaPenta and Bethlehem Stables. "The ground might have been a little soften the Just a Game and Joel didn't think she got through it great, but she was short, and she really needed the race."
Uni arrives at the Fourstardave off a sharp five-eighths breeze in company with multiple Grade 1 winner Newspaperofrecord over the Oklahoma training turf on Sunday morning, which she completed in 1:00.46.
"She just had her best breeze of the year last week and we weren't completely sure about this race," Weisbord said. "We were 50-50 between the Fourstardave and the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill, but the breeze is what gave Chad the confidence to run her, so she's sitting on go."
A winner over six different turf courses in North America, Uni has won seven of her nine starts over the one mile distance, four of which took place against graded stakes company.
Uni boasts the highest amount of lifetime earnings in the field with $2,377,880 and will be picking up the riding services of Saratoga leading rider Jose Ortiz.
"We picked up a great rider in Jose Ortiz," Weisbord said. "I asked him if he watched replays and he said 'I breezed her tons of times'. We're looking forward to the race."
Peter Brant's Raging Bull and John D. Gunther and Tonya Gunther's Without Parole will square off for the third time in a row.
Winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita two starts back, Raging Bull was third in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland, where he was carried wide into the turn and finished a neck to War of Will. Second in last year's Fourstardave, the 5-year-old bay son of Dark Angel seeks his third graded stakes triumph at Saratoga having won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac at the Spa during his 3-year-old campaign en route to a score in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar.
Breaking from the rail, Raging Bull will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who has ridden the horse in 12 of his 14 lifetime starts.
"I'm hoping for a better trip," Brown said.
Without Parole, a 5-year-old bay son of Frankel, seeks his first win since winning the Group 1 St. James's Palace in June 2018 at Royal Ascot while being trained by John Gosden. Two starts back, Without Parole was a troubled third in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile where he lacked racing room down the stretch but finished third to stablemate Raging Bull.
Last out, he was a closing third beaten a neck in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile where he went six wide into the stretch and made a late bid to be beaten a neck. Without Parole made his North American debut last November when finishing third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile to Uni and Got Stormy.
"We feel like he fits in with this group, so we're trying again and hope that he will get a better trip," Brown said.
Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Without Parole from post 8.
Valid Point, owned by e Five Thoroughbred Racing, has made all of his five lifetime starts going one mile and seeks a second Grade 1 win after winning the Secretariat at Arlington Park last August. The bay son of Scat Daddy was off the board last out in the Grade 3 Poker.
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano seeks a third Fourstardave win aboard Valid Point, who will leave from post 7.
"I'm hoping the turf is firm for my four horses," Brown said. "Hopefully they can all get clean trips and have an equal chance to win the race."
Rounding out the field are Casa Creed [post 2, Junior Alvarado], Emmaus [post 3, Jose Lezcano], Halladay [post 5, Luis Saez] and Chewing Gum [post 9, John Velazquez].
The Fourstardave is slated as Race 9 on Saturday's 10-race card, which offers a first post of 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
The Fourstardave pays homage to "The Sultan of Saratoga" who was best known for winning at least one race at the Spa every year from 1987-1994 in a racing career that featured 100 starts. Trained by Leo O'Brien and owned by Richard Bomze and Bernard Connaughton, Fourstardave was a 10-time winner at Saratoga, with five of those races taking place on the turf, including two editions of the West Point and back-to-back editions of the Grade 3 Daryl's Joy in 1990-91, which is now run as the Fourstardave.
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