Fast Facts about the Fourstardave Handicap

Wise Dan winning the 2013 Fourstardave Handicap
Wise Dan winning the 2013 Fourstardave Handicap (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)

The Fourstardave Handicap is one of the top turf races in the U.S. for horses three and older. Here are some facts about the Grade 1 event contested at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, which is a “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF on Nov. 7 at Keeneland:

Daryl’s Joy – Held for the first time in 1985, the race was originally contested at 1 1/16-mile and called the Daryl’s Joy Stakes. Daryl’s Joy was a New Zealand-bred racehorse who won two of Australia’s most important races, the Cox Plate and the Victoria Derby in 1969, before traveling to the U.S. to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham. Daryl’s Joy won races including the Del Mar Handicap, Arcadia Handicap, and the San Luis Obispo Handicap, but never raced at Saratoga.

The Sultan of Saratoga – The race’s current namesake, Fourstardave, won two consecutive Daryl’s Joy Stakes in 1990 and 1991, prompting the race’s name change for 1996 onward. The famous gelding trained by Leo O’Brien raced 100 times in his career and earned over $1.6 million. Nine of his 21 victories were at Saratoga – at least one per year from 1987 to 1994. For this feat, he is fondly recognized as the “Sultan of Saratoga,” as is buried in the Clare Court area of the Saratoga backstretch.

More races than years – While the race has been in existence for 35 years, it has been run 37 times, with two divisions in 1987 and 1989. The 1987 divisions were won by Persian Mews and Duluth, and 1989 by Steinlen and Highland Springs.

Races on dirt – The race has twice been run on dirt due to inclement weather, and over varying distances. Now Listen won in 1992 over one mile, trained by Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel for Juddmonte Farms. In 2002, Capsized won racing over 1 1/8 miles for trainer Lisa Lewis.

Wise Dan – Aside from Fourstardave himself, Wise Dan is the only other horse to win consecutive editions of the race, in 2012 and 2013. He went on both years to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile and to be crowned a multiple champion and Horse of the Year. Wise Dan was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2020.

Multiple distances – From 1985 until 2011, the Fourstardave Handicap was run over 1 1/16-mile, but in 2012 was shortened to one mile. 

First winning mare – In 2019, Got Stormy won the Fourstardave Handicap in record time, becoming the first mare in history to win the race. Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., she is sired by 2010 Fourstardave winner Get Stormy.

Most wins by a jockey and trainer – Hall of Fame jockey John Velasquez has won nine Fourstardave Handicaps (1992, 1996, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013), while Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has won four (2000, 2007, 2014, 2016). The two team up in the 2020 event with Chewing Gum.

Rematch in 2020 – The top three finishers from last year’s event, Got Stormy, Raging Bull, and Uni, are all entered in the 2020 Fourstardave. The latter two are among four entries trained by Chad Brown, along with Valid Point and Without Parole.

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