Fourstardave, one of the most popular horses ever to race at Saratoga, died Tuesday morning at age 17 while jogging on the Belmont training track. He will be buried on the backside of the Saratoga race track, in the area called Clare Court.
"They brought him from the farm in Ocala to be paraded this Saturday for the New York Showcase day," said Leo O'Brien, who trained Fourstardave, and in whose barn the gelding was staying.
"He had spent the last 10 days riding out at the farm, so this wouldn't be so stressful on him. I sent him out for a little jog this morning at 10:30 and he had a heart attack and died. It's tough on these old horses when you move them around like that.
"It was just terrible. But he gave us so many thrills, and I guess he went doing the thing he loved the most. I can't believe how good he looked. He looked better than most of my horses in the barn."
Fourstardave, a New York-bred son of Compliance, out of Broadway Joan, was owned and bred by Richard Bomze. Racing from 1987 to 1995, he won 21 of 100 career starts, with 18 seconds and 16 thirds for earnings of $1,636,737.
But it was at Saratoga that he became a fixture, and was dubbed "The Sultan of Saratoga" for his heroic exploits at the Spa for so many years, where he won 9 of 21 career starts. He won at least one race at the Spa for an amazing eight consecutive years, and set a course record of 1:38.91 for 1 1/16 miles on the turf. He captured the Daryl's Joy Stakes (gr. III) in 1990 and '91 against open company. He also captured the Albany Stakes, West Point Handicap twice, and Empire Stakes, all at Saratoga, and placed in the grade I Bernard Baruch Handicap twice, Gallant Man Stakes, Daryl's Joy, and West Point.
`Dave' was so popular, that upon his retirement, he was feted at neighboring Siro's Restaurant, where he was presented with an edible key to the city and had the small lane named in his honor (Fourstardave Way). Fourstardave is also honored with a race in his name at Saratoga, and by the New York Turf Writers Association, who present its annual Fourstardave Award for special achievement at the Spa.
Fourstardave will be the third horse to be buried at Clare Court, joining Mourjane (IRE) and A Phenomenon.