A 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds and up, the Fourstardave includes quality horses from some of the top barns in the nation. One of them is War Monger, a 4-year-old War Chant colt owned by Peter Vegso and trained by Bill Mott, the same connections who sent out last year’s Fourstardave winner, Silver Tree.
Leading trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair of contenders in Distorted Reality and Red Giant, while Steve Asmussen and Kiaran McLaughlin have a good chance with Inca King and Danak, respectively. Also to be considered is three-time graded stakes winner Cosmonaut, conditioned by Carlos Martin.
Thorn Song, sent out by another leading trainer, Dale Romans, has been in top form since finishing sixth to Einstein in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) on Kentucky Derby (gr. I) day May 3. The 5-year-old son of Unbridled's Song won an allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs the next month, and then took the Firecracker in gate-to-wire fashion. Both of those contests were at a mile, however. Thorn Song is 0-for-6 in two-turn stakes events.
Bred in Kentucky by Pinnacle Racing and Taylor Made Farm, and out of the Storm Bird mare Festal, Thorn Song has a record of 6-4-3 from 19 starts. With Alan Garcia aboard for the first time, the gray horse will carry a high weight of 119 pounds.
War Monger did not enjoy the ‘good’ turf at Keeneland when finishing last in the Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. I) April 11 and has been off since then. The Florida-bred’s lone victory this year came in the Sunshine Millions Turf Jan. 26 at Gulfstream. Mott isn’t too concerned about him coming off a nearly four-month layoff, however.
“Well, we started early in the year,” said Mott, who assigned Robby Albarado the mount. “We wanted to conserve, if possible, a little horse for the fall, because I kind of had it in my mind that he’s pretty effective at a mile. You know, there wasn’t too much going on for him during that time when I gave him a break; there wasn’t much that I was interested in running him in. I didn’t pass anything up.”
Pletcher’s best chance should come from Peachtree Stable’s Red Giant, but the 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt is coming off a nearly 10-month layoff. A winner of three consecutive turf races last summer, including the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), Red Giant’s last effort was Oct. 6 in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park, where he finished second to Nobiz Like Shobiz. The chestnut colt also missed by a half-length in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington last August.
Red Giant, who has been working steadily at Belmont and Saratoga, will have John Velazquez aboard.
Pletcher’s other entry is Centaur Farms’ Distorted Reality, a son of Distorted Humor . Graded stakes-placed three times, Distorted Reality enters the Fourstardave off a narrow victory in the restricted Academy Award Stakes at Belmont June 19.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Inca King, a 4-year-old Sir Cat gelding, enters off a 2 1/4-length score in the Opening Verse Handicap May 31 at Churchill. Last year’s Jefferson Cup Stakes (gr. IIT) winner has won seven of 17 starts.
Irish-bred Danak will make his second start in the states and his first start for McLaughlin. The lightly-raced 5-year-old is a group III winner in Ireland and was sixth, but only 1 1/2 lengths back, in last year’s Arlington Million (gr. IT).
Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut has been very consistent over the past 10 months, finishing on the board in six of seven stakes efforts. Though his lone win during that span came in the Feb. 23 Tampa Bay Stakes, the 6-year-old millionaire by Lemon Drop Kid narrowly missed three times, including a two-length setback in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) and a neck defeat in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT).
$150,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Red Giant (KY), 117, John R. Velazquez
2. War Monger (FL),116, Robby Albarado
3. Prince Rahy (KY), 113, Javier Castellano
4. Thorn Song (KY), 119, Alan Garcia
5. Danak (IRE), 117, Rajiv Maragh
6. Stalingrad (KY), 113, Channing Hill
7. Jungle Fighter (ON), 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
8. Distorted Reality (FL), 115, Eibar Coa
9. Cosmonaut (KY), 118, Julien R. Leparoux
10. Inca King (KY), 116, Shaun Bridgmohan
11. Elusive Fort (SAF), 114, Richard Migliore