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Fourstardave Preview: Uni out for Revenge
Uni winning the 2019 Breeders' Cup Mile (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Fourstardave Preview: Uni out for Revenge

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Michael Dubb, Robert LaPenta, Head of Plains Partners, and Bethlehem Stables’ Uni is out for revenge in Saturday’s $400,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga as she builds toward returning to the year-end World Championships.

The winner of the Fourstardave will receive an automatic position in the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

The Fourstardave is a 1-mile inner turf route open to horses ages 3 and up. The 2020 edition attracted a field of nine, including the top three finishers from last year’s running.

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Let’s look at the full field:

#1 Raging Bull – He was a resounding victor while making his 2020 debut in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1), then missed by just a nose and a neck in the Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes (G1) last time out. While he carries high weight of 123 pounds (spotting as much as 8 pounds to his rivals), he’s carried at least this much in 5 of his past 7 starts and has a local record of 3-2-1-0.

#2 Casa Creed – He returns to Saratoga, where he earned 2 of his 3 career wins including last year’s National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) over this exact course and distance. He reunites with jockey Junior Alvarado, aboard that day, and cuts back slightly after hanging in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile Wise Dan Stakes (G2) last time out.

#3 Emmaus – Though he finished fifth each time, he was a threatening contender in both the Wise Dan and the Maker’s Mark Mile in his most recent starts, missing by less than 2 lengths in each appearance. He’s winless in 6 prior turf mile attempts, but with a little racing luck, he could turn the tables on several familiar rivals at a big price.

#4 Got Stormy – The defending race champion broke the track record with a final time of 1:32 flat and was later a game second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile before winning the Matriarch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar to end 2019. She’s struggled to regain that same form this year, but she’s perfect in 2 starts over this course, so perhaps returning here will reverse her recent fortunes.

“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,” said trainer Mark Casse. “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.”

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#5 Halladay – Back-to-back victories over the Gulfstream Park turf earned him a shot in the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) over this course, where he finished fourth after stalking the early pace. That was his first start after 2 1/2 months away, so expect him to show improvement in his second effort off the bench.

#6 Uni – The defending Breeders’ Cup Mile champion won 3 of her 4 starts in 2019, suffering her lone defeat in last year’s edition of this event. Jose Ortiz will hop into the irons for the first time after regular rider Joel Rosario opted to stay aboard Raging Bull, but don’t think of it as a downgrade: Ortiz’s 41 wins (through Wednesday) lead all jockeys at the current meet.

“We picked up a great rider in Jose Ortiz,” said Bradley Weisbord, who manages Uni on behalf of her owners. “I asked him if he watched replays and he said, ‘I breezed her tons of times.’ We’re looking forward to the race.”

#7 Valid Point – The field’s least-experienced runner has only made 5 career starts, but he won 3 straight to start his career, including the Secretariat Stakes (G1). His following 2 starts against tougher competition were not nearly as successful, but it’s a good sign that he keeps the services of Javier Castellano, the only rider he’s ever known, who won this in 2006 and 2010.

#8 Without Parole – After a successful 3-year overseas career, he moved west last summer and made his North American debut in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, finishing third behind Uni and Got Stormy. He hasn’t finished better than third in 3 starts since, but he was just a 1/2-length behind Raging Bull in the Maker’s Mark Mile last time out and looks his best at this distance.

#9 Chewing Gum – He stretches back out to a mile after winning 1 of 4 turf sprint attempts earlier this year. He has a turf mile distance record of 6-2-1-2 and will try to improve upon his twin fourth-place efforts in his prior graded stakes efforts, including the Troy (G3) last time out as the 2/1 favorite. Jockey John Velazquez has won this race 9 times, more than any other rider.

The Fourstardave serves as race 9 and is the sole stakes on the Saturday card at Saratoga. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue Saturday at Del Mar with the Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association (Longines Turf) and the TVG Pacific Classic (Longines Classic).

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.

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