Uni winning the Matriarch Stakes (G1) - © Benoit Photo

Uni winning the Matriarch Stakes (G1) – © Benoit Photo

#3 Uni is a mare facing males in Saturday’s $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga. But while this fact might concern some bettors, I’m inclined to shrug it off and conclude Uni is simply the best horse in field.

While the majority of Uni’s rivals in this “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) are grade 2 or grade 3 types, Uni is a solid grade 1 competitor. The lightly raced daughter of More Than Ready has won her last five starts dating back to April of 2018, including a powerful, late-running triumph in the one-mile Matriarch Stakes (G1) against fillies and mares at Del Mar.

After she took the winter off, Uni returned to action in the one-mile Perfect Sting Stakes on June 29 at Belmont Park and delivered another impressive performance. Reserved in last behind solid fractions, Uni rallied powerfully down the stretch under a confident hand ride to win by a length and sprinted the final quarter in :21.93. That’s racehorse time!

A huge turn of foot has long been Uni’s best weapon, and it should suit her again in the Fourstardave. The 10-horse field contains three tried-and-true frontrunners (#2 Dr. Edgar, #5 Ostilio and #10 Gidu) plus a few pressing/tracking types, so the early pace should be honest. Uni will retain the services of jockey Joel Rosario, known for his powerful finishes aboard late runners, and we all know how dangerous trainer Chad Brown can be with his fillies and mares on grass.

The fact that Uni is a mare facing males figures to scare away a few bettors, so there’s a chance she might return a nice price in the win pool.

I’m just not very enthusiastic about playing Uni’s male rivals on top of my tickets. For the most part they’ve been inconsistent and have traded blows in lower-level races. #10 Gidu is a perfect example. He ran a big race two starts back to defeat the talented Annals of Time in a one-mile allowance at Belmont, where he prevailed in gate-to-wire fashion to stop the clock in 1:32.68. A month later Gidu encountered a yielding turf course in the Forbidden Apple Stakes (G3) at Saratoga and retreated to finish ninth.

At least #4 Raging Bull has won at the grade 1 levelhe claimed the Hollywood Derby (G1) against 3-year-olds at Del Mar in December. He is winless in three starts this season, but he has been competing exclusively in grade 1 company and has knocked heads with Horse of the Year contender Bricks and Mortar in his last two starts. Raging Bull should find the competition a bit easier in the Fourstardave, though the one-mile distance might be a hair shorter than he prefers.

When it’s all said and done, I’m tempted to just bet Uni to win and key her on top of an exacta with Raging Bull and Gidu underneath. The hidden drop in class for Raging Bull could improve his finish, while a return to firm turf could make the difference for Gidu.

$12 to win on #3 Uni
$4 exacta: 3 with 4,10 ($8)

Good luck!