Using History As a Guide to Bet the 2019 Fourstardave Handicap
Courtesy of J. Keeler Johnson of the America's Best Racing
Mark your calendars for 5 p.m. ET Aug. 10, and tell your friends you’ll be busy for an hour. You won’t want to miss NBC’s live coverage of the $500,000, Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, a prestigious “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Nov. 2 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.
Suffice to say, the Fourstardave Handicap has been a key steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Mile in recent years. Since 2012, World Approval, Tourist, and Wise Dan(twice) have used the Fourstardave as a springboard to glory at the Breeders’ Cup.
So what’s the secret to winning the Fourstardave? What kind of horse does it take to claim this one-mile test of speed, class, and stamina? After analyzing the last 10 editions of the Fourstardave, here are five tips and trends to help you identify the most likely winner in 2019:
Bet Speed, Speed, Speed!
In general, turf races are known for their fantastic finishes with deep closers flying from off the pace to prevail in the shadow of the wire. But the Fourstardave has been a noteworthy exception, strongly favoring speed horses over the last 10 years. Voodoo Song (2018), Sidney’s Candy (2011), and Get Stormy (2010) all won in gate-to-wire fashion, while five other winners were racing second or third (and within two lengths of the lead) halfway through the race. Regardless of the turf condition, it’s wise to favor speed horses in the Fourstardave Handicap.
With nine victories overall (including three in the last decade), no jockey has enjoyed greater success in the Fourstardave than John Velazquez. Give him a live mount, and you can bet he’ll execute a strong ride on the Saratoga turf course.
Trainer Bill Mott might not win the Fourstardave every time he saddles a runner, but with four victories overall, including scores with Tourist in 2016 and Seek Again in 2014, his runners are always worth an extra look.
Favor Proven Stakes Winners
With the exception of Justenuffhumor, every Fourstardave winner over the last 10 years had previously achieved victory in a stakes races, with the majority winning at least one (if not multiple) graded stakes races prior to their success at Saratoga.
Success at Saratoga Doesn’t Hurt
Half of the last 10 Fourstardave winners had previously reached the winner’s circle at Saratoga. Considering that the meet is short, and the Fourstardave comes early in the meet, this usually means the runner in question had won a race at Saratoga a year or two prior to succeeding in the Fourstardave.
A Last-Out Victory Isn’t Critical
Turf milers are often evenly matched, taking turns beating each other from one race to another. Only three of the last 10 Fourstardave winners (Voodoo Song, Wise Dan in 2013, and Justenuffhumor) entered the race off a victory. Three others (World Approval, Grand Arch, and Got Stormy) actually finished fourth or worse in their final start prior to the Fourstardave.
At this juncture, the field for the 2019 Fourstardave Handicap remains in flux. But reviewing the list of nominees, it’s easy to conclude Mr Havercamp will be a big factor if he competes. A two-time graded stakes winner, Mr Havercamp has plenty of tactical speed, which he utilized to rally from just off the pace and win the one-mile, Grade 3 Forbidden Apple Stakes at Saratoga three weeks ago.
Krampus boasts similar positives. Winner of the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park during the winter, Krampus was beaten just a head in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont last time out, so he’ll be entering the Fourstardave off a defeat that could boost his odds. Like Mr Havercamp, Krampus has the tactical speed to race close to the pace, and guess what? He’s trained by Bill Mott and was ridden to victory in the Canadian Turf Stakes by John Velazquez. If he enters the race, Krampus could wind up being a near-perfect fit for the historical profile of a Fourstardave winner.
Good luck, and enjoy the race!
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