Sassy Little Lila flies home 2 1/2 lengths in front of Burma Road at Churchill May 20

Sassy Little Lila flies home 2 1/2 lengths in front of Burma Road at Churchill May 20

Coady Photography

Sassy Little Lila Takes on Boys in Fourstardave

The 4-year-old filly has finished no worse than second in seven starts.

Sheep Pond Partners and Michael Ryan's Sassy Little Lila will take on the boys as the lone filly in a field of seven entered for the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) Aug. 12 at a mile on the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course.

Racing exclusively against females, the 4-year-old daughter of Artie Schiller has finished no worse than second in seven starts since her debut in June of 2016, including a pair of grade 1 placings—in the American Oaks at Santa Anita Park in December and the June 10 Just a Game Stakes last time out at Belmont Park.

Sassy Little Lila broke her maiden on the inner turf at the Spa as a 3-year-old, when she drew off to a five-length victory and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.90, less than three-tenths of a second off the course record. 

"She's still a lightly raced filly," said trainer Brad Cox. "She's a 4-year-old that hasn't run a lot, so she's still learning and hopefully her best races are in front of her. She's ultra-consistent. She has a lot of talent and ability. 

"We knew last summer when she was breezing here, she really stepped up and showed us that she could be a graded stakes horse, even right before she broke her maiden. Her works were spectacular. She won the last race on the last day of the meet last year and almost broke the track record, so we knew she had a big upside."

Cox had entered the speedy filly into last weekend's Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes, but opted instead to wait for the Fourstardave. Sassy Little Lila is installed as the field's low weight at 112 pounds.

"Obviously there's a couple angles we're hoping work out. We get a weight break as a filly facing the boys, she likes a mile, and she likes this course up here," Cox said. "It's an ambitious spot, but she's doing well, so we think she's up for the challenge."

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will aim for his fifth overall win—and third in four years—in the Fourstardave with Donegal Racing's Poker Stakes (G3T) winner Ballagh Rocks.

The 4-year-old colt by Stormy Atlantic  put together a three-race win streak through the fall and winter and came back from a nearly three-month layoff to finish a close fourth in the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland. He finished a troubled seventh in the grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) undercard at Churchill Downs before he rebounded to post a neck victory in the Poker over favored Projected.

LARUE: Ballagh Rocks Gets Graded Victory in Poker Stakes

"He's come along nicely. He's won four of his last six. He's done well and it looks like he's good at a mile," said Mott, who won last year's race with eventual Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) winner Tourist , as well as Seek Again (2014), Silver Tree (2007), and Hap (2000). "There's not much pace in the race, so I don't know where that puts us. There could only be one horse in there with any pace."

Maker's 46 Mile winner American Patriot is set to make his stateside return for WinStar Farm, following an unsuccessful jaunt to England for the Queen Anne (G1) June 20 at Royal Ascot, where he finished 11th.

"I think he was a little confused, going the wrong way, uphill, and the trip and all that. It just didn't work out for him. It was obviously a different setting for him, going a straight mile," said trainer Todd Pletcher.

Before the Queen Anne, the War Front  colt posted back-to-back wins to start his 4-year-old season, capped by a late-closing neck victory in the April 14 Maker's 46.

NOVAK: American Patriot Steals Maker's 46 Mile

"He came back from Royal Ascot in good form and he's been pointing for this since then," Pletcher said. "He's been training well. He seems happy, and he's getting back to what he's best at, which is a two-turn mile. He gives us the impression he's training as well as he ever has. It's a tough race for sure, but he acts like he's in good form. I think his Maker's 46 indicates, when he's on his 'A' game, he can compete with the best of the American milers."

Patricia Generazio's homebred Disco Partner, who owns the world record time for six furlongs on the turf for his Jaipur Stakes (G3T) victory in June, will try for his second straight win at a mile for trainer Christophe Clement, follwing a dominant victory in the Forbidden Apple Stakes last month at Belmont. 

ANGST: Disco Partner Wins Jaipur in World Record Time

Juddmonte Farm's Time Test will try to improve on his runner-up effort in the June 10 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1T) at Belmont, cutting back from 1 1/4 miles on the grass for trainer Chad Brown.

Also making his first start since the Manhattan is Live Oak Plantation's multiple graded stakes winner World Approval, who is looking to rebound from his fifth-place finish. Prior to that the 5-year-old Northern Afleet  gelding earned a 2 1/4-length victory in the Longines Dixie (G2T) at Pimlico Race Course.

Weekend Hideway is entered for the main track only.

Entries: Fourstardave H. (G1T)

Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, August 12, 2017, Race 10

  • Grade I
  • 1m
  • Inner turf
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 6:28 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11Ballagh Rocks (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Lezcano119William I. Mott10/1
22American Patriot (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez121Todd A. Pletcher6/1
33Time Test (GB)Javier Castellano120Chad C. Brown8/5
44Weekend Hideaway (NY)Luis Saez112Philip M. Serpe3/1
55Sassy Little Lila (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLuis Saez112Brad H. Cox6/1
66Disco Partner (NY)Tyler Gaffalione119Christophe Clement2/1
77World Approval (FL)Manuel Franco121Mark E. Casse9/2