The 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan seeks his eighth consecutive win when he takes on six seemingly overmatched foes in the 29th running of the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G2) at Saratoga.
The Charles LoPresti trainee is the 3-5 morning line favorite and defending champion in the Fourstardave, the race that started his current winning streak.
He won five of six starts last year capped off by his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 3. His lone defeat last year was a head loss to Ron the Greek in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on dirt.
“He’s the target every time,” LoPresti said. “I think it’s going to take a really good horse to beat him. He’s overcome some tough trips. I just want him to get an easy race this time. I don’t want it to be one of those where he’s trapped and has to overcome a lot of adversity to get to the winner’s circle.”
A graded stakes winner on dirt and synthetic, LoPresti has received some heat for running the Horse of the Year in back-to-back Grade 2 races instead of a possibly tougher spot like the Whitney Handicap (G1) or the Woodward (G1), both on dirt.
LoPresti appears to be taking the same route this year with Wise Dan with the ultimate goal a repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It is a more conservative route than some would like to see him take, but it’s hard to argue with three wins this year with a pair of Grade 1 wins and a Grade 2 score and earnings of $622,432 and a shot of picking up another $300,000 on Saturday.
The gelding is going to be a short price as he looks for a repeat in the race. The races were taken off the turf on Friday and there still figures to be some give in the ground on Saturday, which should not pose a problem. He won his last two races over yielding footing and last year’s Fourstardave was also run over yielding turf.
The Fourstardave will be televised live during ‘Summer at Saratoga” on NBC at 5:00 pm eastern.
Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 10 The Fourstardave Handicap G2 (Post time 5:45 ET)
1 Wise Dan 3-5
3 Za Approval 8-1
7 Lea 5-1
4 Mr. Commons 10-1
Analysis: Wise Dan is seeking his eighth win in a row, the winning streak starting in this race last year. The gelding won last year’s running of the Fourstardave over yielding footing and there likely will still be some give to the ground after the races were washed off the turf on Friday due to rain. The gelding is coming into the race off a sharp win in the Firecracker Handicap (G2) carrying 128 pounds and he picks up one pound today and spots his six rivals from nine to 14 pounds. The gelding should get a good trip sitting just off the pace under jockey John Velazquez, who has won on this guy six times in seven trips on the 2012 Horse of the Year. He has only lost once at a mile on turf, the defeating coming in the 2011 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland in a fourth place finish. The price is going to be light but this gelding just keeps on winning and the barn just keeps on placing him spots where he towers over the field.
Za Approval is coming off a solid effort in a runner up finish in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Hollywood Park to Obviously, one of the best turf runners on the west coast who ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) last fall to Wise Dan, beaten two lengths. The fourth place finisher in the Shoemaker was Jeranimo, who came back to win the Eddie Read (G1) in his next outing on July 20 at Del Mar. The gelding makes his third start of his current form cycle for the Christophe Clement barn and looks to be sitting on a good one here. He did break his maiden over the Spa turf. He will need another career top or for Wise Dan to toss in a clunker.
Lea finished up well for the runner up spot in the Firecracker and was only beaten two lengths to Wise Dan. The lightly raced four year old won the Commonwealth (G3) last fall at Churchill Downs for his lone stakes win. He still has some upside as he makes his third start off the bench here for the Al Stall barn. He is getting a dozen pounds from the chalk, but not sure we are going to see enough of a price to back him for the upset.
WIN: Wise Dan to win at 4-5 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,4,7
TRI: 1,3 / 1,3,4,7 / 1,3,4,6,7
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