Thursday, July 30, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sunday’s 25th running of the Grade 2, $150,000-added Fourstardave Handicap will bring together a diverse field of nine including accomplished older turf horses and rising younger stars.

Among the older talent entered in the 1 1/16-mile contest, to be run as Sunday’s seventh race, is Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut, a 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid. A two-time winner (’06 and ’07) of the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park, Cosmonaut finished second in the race last year. He made his most recent start in the 2009 edition on 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. [Owner] Mr. Carl Lizza 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 Grade 3 Fort Marcy at Belmont Park, his first race off a long layoff following the 2008 Arlington Handicap. He finished fifth in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, running into a tough field that included the current leader of the older male turf division, Gio Ponti.

IEAH Stables’ Kip Deville, 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 Grade 3 Poker at Belmont, he ran a disappointing 10th in the Grade 1 Dubai Duty Free in late March. The 6-year-old son of Kipling won his first start of the year, the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 1 and is 12-4-2 with more than $3 million in earnings from 29 lifetime starts.

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. After winning his first start of 2009 in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, the son of Giant’s Causeway was second by a head to Einstein in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 2.

Stepping up in class are two more 4-year-olds, Darley Stable’s Justenuffhumor and Quantum Racing Team’s Mambo Meister.

“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 with trainer Phil Gleaves, looks like an improving horse and has won his last two, both overnight stakes at Calder Race Course.

“Three back he was second in a Grade 3 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 in the Fourstardave 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.

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