Fast Pace Seems Likely in Fourstardave Handicap

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 9th, 2018

Turf races in New York have a reputation for being very slow-paced events that are difficult to decipher beforehand. How can you handicap effectively when you have no idea who might wind up shaking loose on an easy lead?

That said, Saturday’s $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. I) over the inner turf course at Saratoga could be an exception. The one-mile race—a major prep on the road to the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I)—attracted a small field (only six are expected to start), but the presence of #5 Heart to Heart and #6 Voodoo Song should ensure that the pace is quick from the start. These two sons of English Channel strongly prefer to race on the lead—indeed, they have not been as effective when taken off the pace—and the fact that neither seems likely to concede the advantage means that they could be a bit problematic to each other.

A fast pace would be a rare treat for #3 Divisidero, a late-running son of Kitten’s Joy. Divisidero is one of those horses that possesses almost no tactical speed whatsoever, so he’s frequently been disadvantaged in the past by slow paces, yet despite this built-in disadvantage, Divisidero has won five graded stakes races during his career, including two renewals of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. He also overcame a modest pace to win the Arlington Handicap (gr. III) last time out in hard-fought fashion.

You can make a case that a mile might be too short for Divisidero, but he just missed in the 1 1/16-mile Wise Dan Stakes (gr. II) two starts back despite a very poor trip, and the possibility of a fast pace could potentially make all the difference.

Of course, Divisidero isn’t the only talented late-runner in the Fourstardave field. The lightly-raced #2 Delta Prince looked great winning the one-mile King Edward Stakes (gr. II) with a mid-pack rally last time out, while #7 Yoshida won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) during the spring and was beaten just 1 ¼ lengths in the prestigious Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot two months ago. Yoshida in particular has shown flashes of brilliance and has enough tactical speed to work out a nice pace-stalking trip and possibly get the jump on Delta Prince and Divisidero.

Ultimately, I’m going to bank on the notion that the pace will be too quick for Heart to Heart and Voodoo Song while trying to get both Yoshida and Divisidero into the top three:

$2 trifecta: 7 with 3 with 2,5,6 ($6) $2 trifecta: 7 with 2,5,6 with 3 ($6) $2 trifecta: 7 with 2,5,6 with 2,5,6 ($12) $1 trifecta: 3 with 7 with 2,5,6 ($3) $1 trifecta: 3 with 2,5,6 with 7 ($3)

Good luck!