SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Harrell Ventures’ Halladay threw a heater on the front end and gassed the field in the stretch to wire Saturday’s $400,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga.
The Fourstardave is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Halladay receiving an automatic berth in the FanDuel Mile Presented by the PDJF at Keeneland this November.
Hustled quickly from post 5 under Luis Saez at 5/1 odds, Halladay outkicked the defending champion Got Stormy and held sole command heading into the clubhouse turn.
After straightening out on the backstretch, Halladay set an uncontested early pace, posting fractions of :23.85 and :47.19 through the opening 1/2-mile while Got Stormy and Emmaus gave closest watch.
Still in front at the top of the stretch, Halladay reached back and unleashed a four-seamer right down the middle of the strike zone, making every rival scramble to keep up.
Got Stormy nearly connected with a mid-stretch bid, but Halladay’s relaxed early tempo left him with more than enough energy to finish them off in the ninth inning.
The Todd Pletcher trainee completed the mile-long route over the good inner turf course in a final time of 1:33.32.
“When I ride him, I always feel like he’s better on the lead,” Saez said. “He likes to fight. He’s a game horse. Today, the track is a little bit softer and he couldn’t break that fast from there, but at the second jump, he was right there.”
Though her bid ultimately failed by 1 1/4 lengths at the wire, Got Stormy’s effort was strong enough to hold second by the same margin. Casa Creed closed from off the pace to get up late for third over a weakening Emmaus.
The Chad Brown-trained quartet of Raging Bull, Without Parole, Uni (the 2/1 favorite), and Valid Point filled out fifth through eight. Chewing Gum – who looked stuck to his stall when the gate opened – completed the order of finish.
Halladay’s win was his first at the graded level and improved his overall record to 14-6-2-4, including a mark of 7-4-1-2 on turf courses rated less than firm. Already twice a stakes winner heading into this event, the 4-year-old War Front colt has now earned $517,485.
“He’s gotten really good and we’ve seen it in the mornings in his training,” Pletcher said after winning his third Fourstardave. “He’s been going great and we were confident going in that he was at his very best, and we thought we had a bit of a pace advantage, so we wanted to take the race to them. He didn’t break great, but once he got his legs underneath him, he settled really well and kicked really strong.”
Halladay returned $12.60 to win, $7.10 to place, and $5.70 to show. Got Stormy brought back $8.30 to place and $8.30 to show, while Casa Creed paid $7.60 to show.