The Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 2 at Saratoga will bring together a diverse field of nine, including accomplished older turf horses such as Cosmonaut and Kip Deville and rising younger stars ready to go in the $150,000-added test.
Among the older talent entered in the 1 1/16-mile race is Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut, a 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid . A two-time winner of the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT), Cosmonaut finished second in the Arlington last year. He made his most recent start in the 2009 edition July 11, finishing third after breaking from the outside in the field of 12.
“He was probably having a hard time overcoming the outside post position,” said trainer Phil Serpe. “I think it probably cost him second that day. Mr. Carl Lizza (the owner) wanted to run him (at Saratoga) and the timing seems right. He should like the turf being (a little softer) here, also.”
Earlier this year, Cosmonaut won the Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park, his first race off a long layoff following the 2008 Arlington Handicap. He finished fifth in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on Belmont Stakes day, running into a tough field that included the current leader of the older male turf division, Gio Ponti .
IEAH Stables and partners’ Kip Deville, the morning-line favorite at 5-2 and highweight at 122 pounds, is another older horse who could prove tough. Fourth in his most recent start, the Poker Stakes (gr. IIT) at Belmont, he ran a disappointing 10th in the group I Dubai Duty Free on turf in late March. The 6-year-old son of Kipling won his first start of the year, the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) Feb. 1 and is 12-4-2 with $3.3 million in earnings from 29 lifetime starts. In 2007, he won the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), with Cosmonaut third.
Cowboy Cal, owned by Magnolia Racing Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, leads a group of talented 4-year-olds in the race.
“We kinda freshened him up after the Manhattan with this in mind, so we’re hoping he’ll perform well,” Pletcher said.
Cowboy Cal also fell victim to Gio Ponti in the Manhattan, finishing eighth of 12. The son of Giant's Causeway won the San Pasqual (gr. II) and Strub (gr. II) Stakes to start the year and later was second by a head to Einstein in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs May 2.
“He’s always been a little bit of a handful at the gate, a knucklehead, as we call him,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said of Justenuffhumor, who has four wins from five lifetime starts, the last three over turf going 1 1/16 miles. “They’ve done a real good job with him, and they continue to school him. He’s a nice horse, doing great, and he’s ready to go.”
Mambo Meister, who shipped in from Florida for trainer Phil Gleaves, looks like an improving horse and has won his last two, both overnight stakes at Calder Race Course.
“Three (races) back, he was second in a grade III going a mile,” said Gleaves referring to the Miami Mile Handicap. “He got his last quarter in 24 and two, which is racehorse time, and at that point we decided to take a shot against better horses, which is why we are here. He’s an improving horse, it’s just a question of whether he can rise to the occasion against better horses, but we need to find out sooner than later.”
Completing the field are Barry K. Schwartz’s Papa Bear, G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Veiled Prophet, J. Paul Reddam and Willmott Stables’ Wesley, and Elliot Mavorah’s Interpatation
Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT), Saratoga, Aug. 2, 1 1/16 miles, Race 7, Time 4:21.
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1) Cowboy Cal 120 R.A. Dominguez
2) Justenuffhumor 115 Alan Garcia
3) Papa Bear 113 N. Arroyo Jr.
4) Cosmonaut 117 J.R. Leparoux
5) Veiled Prophet 114 J.L. Castanon
6) Wesley 115 J. Castellano
7) Mambo Meister 115 J. Lezcano
8) Kip Deville 122 C.H. Velasquez
9) Interpatation 115 M.J. Luzzi