Saratoga Weekend Feature Previews – Fourstardave Weekend
Though no Grade I stakes races exist on this weekend's docket, four Grade II's make it a big one, continuing the season's long building crescendo toward Travers weekend.
Friday - Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame: This mile and a sixteenth turf race is headlined by two Triple Crown participants - D. Wayne Lukas' Optimizer, and Steve Asmussen's Daddy Nose Best. Those two will almost certainly be heavily bet and such a distinction is likely just. Still, I don't see much speed in the race, and with both often running near the back, or at best in mid pack, I don't know if I love them here. Instead, it is the three, Yari, who is drawing my attention. He's making a major step up in class here, but with five races on the turf, he's a winner three times, and a second place horse twice - never by more than one and a half lengths. He'll likely be on the lead early, so we'll see if he holds on. Make no mistake, Optimizer and Daddy Nose Best are the class, but if you're looking for a pick beyond those two, Yari may be the one.
Saturday - Grade II Fourstardave: This mile long turf handicap will be the first feature televised on NBC Sports' Summer at Saratoga series. They've picked a good one to open with, as the nine horse field has some real quality, lead, to me, by the 2, Wise Dan. A winner of three of his last four, which has included three graded stakes wins, I believe he is quite simply the class of the field. Others could be there, the one Data Link and the three, Get Stormy, for example, but I'm not sure anyone is the equal of Wise Dan.
Sunday - Grade II Adirondack: To me, this is the best race of the weekend. It's a six horse field packed with all kinds of speed and quality and should boast some real fireworks. It's hard to know who to like, with four of these six two-year-old fillies entering the race undefeated. With Rosie Napravnik in the irons, Todd Pletcher's Kauai Katie may be the favorite of the betting public, a twelve length winner in her only race, but she is hardly the only quality. Look out, folks, this is one to watch.
Sunday - Grade II Saratoga Special: Winding down the weekend's action will be this six and a half furlong sprint. Seven two year olds will take to the gate, and it may be another Todd Pletcher and Rosie Napravnik combination as the class. The six, Shanghai Bobby, has won both of his races, the last an 85K stakes race. He's not the only horse who has a shot, though; it's a wide open field. Overall, there'll be plenty of pace, and - like it's predecessor - it should be a hell of a show.