ELMONT, NY – Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith’s Fourstar Crook raced valiantly down the home stretch past several rivals, then had to hold off her heavily-favored stablemate in the shadow of the wire to steal Friday’s Grade 2, $600,000 New York Stakes presented by NYRA Bets at Belmont Park.
Breaking cleanly from post 8 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Fourstar Crook settled in mid pack while Fahan Mura shot to an unbelievable lead of over 8 lengths while posting splits of :23.13, :46.39, 1:10.36, and 1:34.86 for the opening mile. Entering the far turn, the field closed the gap on the runaway pacesetter, but Fahan Mura dug in and fought hard to hold the lead for as long as she could while the rest of the field was spread wide behind her. By the 1/16-pole, Fourstar Crook had overtaken her for command, then dug in gamely to keep fellow Chad Brown trainee Sistercharlie at bay to win by a head in a final time of 1:59.21 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the firm inner turf course.
“The speed horses opened up way too much, so I didn’t pay attention to that,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I just rode my filly. She was comfortable, so I didn’t try to do anything crazy. I kept her covered up, saving ground, like the owner and Chad wanted. I just rode my filly and she was there. I kept riding her and she held on. Sistercharlie was flying, but she held on.”
Sent postward as the 1-2 top bet, Sistercharlie struggled from the moment the gate opened. Though the end result might have been disappointing, Brown was still pleased with her effort, all things considered.
“Sistercharlie really had a nightmare trip,” Brown said. “(She) walked out of the gate, looked like she was making a move up the inside at the 3/8 pole and then got steadied, moved back, then for her to make a run again and to only get beaten by a head, she really ran a remarkable race. Disappointing to see her getting knocked out of position after her run at Keeneland, where I thought she was very vulnerable at a mile and 1/16 and so tactical. Kind of weird to see her run her race all strung out.”
Running five-wide in the stretch from the back of the pack, Daddys Lil Darling was able to close well and take third over Mom’s On Strike, with the latter getting a head past Holy Helena for fourth. Fahan Mura faded late to sixth, outfinishing Empressof the Nile, Esquisse, and Snowy Winter to complete the order of finish.
Fourstar Crook’s win was her second of the year, along with the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in March, and improved her overall record to 17-11-3-1. The 6-year-old daughter of Freud improved her career bankroll to $1,213,166.
“Fourstar Crook, hats off her her,” Brown said. “Michael Dubb deserves a lot of credit, and his partners. Mike is the one who decided to race her at 6, which is not always the ‘in’ thing to do, and Mike loves this horse, as do his partners. They are great partners, Mike Caruso (of Bethlehem Stable) and Gary Aisquith. They agreed to let us run her at 6 and they were rewarded today.”
Fourstar Crook returned $10.80 to win, $3.70 to place, and $2.90 to show. Sistercharlie brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show, while Daddys Lil Darling paid $3.90 to show.