The Fourstardave, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, was carded as the 11th and final race with a scheduled post time of 6:45 p.m. It will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from 6-7 p.m.
Since then, the multi-surface talent romped in both the Grade 2 Fayette on Keeneland’s Polytrack and the Grade 1 Clark Handicap on dirt at Churchill Downs to conclude his 2011 campaign. He opened this year by powering clear to a 10 ½-length score in the Grade 3 Ben Ali on Polytrack at Keeneland in April, then was second by a head to Ron the Greek in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster over the Churchill main track on June 16. Ron the Greek returned to finish second Saturday in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap.
In preparation for the Fourstardave, Wise Dan worked twice on the Oklahoma turf course, including a five-furlong breeze in 58.40 seconds on July 30. It was the quickest of 52 at the distance that day.
Trainer Charles Lopresti downplayed the breeze’s fast time.
“They’ve all been working fast over there,” said Lopresti. “Get Stormy worked fast, I heard Data Link worked fast. I was looking for a minute to 1:01, but he did it easy. He galloped out well and did it just as well at the end as he did in the beginning. When a horse works like that and with the way he galloped out, he’s as fit as he’ll ever be.”
Lopresti believes that Wise Dan, a 5-year-old gelding, has the tactical speed needed to secure a good spot in the Fourstardave.
“I think it’s all about the trip and staying out of trouble and getting a good run,” said Lopresti. “There’s going to be a lot of speed in there, and I hope it will set up for our horse. He has a lot of tactical speed. He can do it both ways. That’s the good thing about him. He can race just off the pace and still make that run at the end. He doesn’t have to be a deep closer.”
John Velazquez will ride Wise Dan, the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, from post position 2.
Stuart S. Janney, III’s Data Link defeated fellow Fourstardave entrant Get Stormy by one length in their most recent race, making a wide rally in deep stretch of the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes on June 10. The Monmouth marked a return to winning form for Data Link, fifth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May at Churchill after winning the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile in April at Keeneland.
Shug McGaughey, the 4-year-old’s Hall of Fame trainer, expects Data Link, who comes from off the pace, to once again get a favorable scenario as he had in the Monmouth.
“[The Fourstardave is] going to be a solid race, but he’s a solid horse,” said McGaughey. “It will be the kind of race where whoever gets the best trip will probably win. They’ll be cooking in this race, too, with Wise Dan, Get Stormy, and some others.”
Data Link, the 3-1 morning-line third choice, drew the rail and will be reunited with jockey Alex Solis.
Get Stormy seeks his second Fourstardave triumph, having won the race in 2010 and missing it last year with a minor tendon issue. This year, the 6-year-old Sullimar Stables color-bearer took the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February, was fourth in the Makers 46 Mile, and ninth in the Woodford Reserve Classic prior to the Monmouth.
Trainer Tom Bush said Get Stormy was compromised in the Monmouth when Get Serious, another front runner, made an early bid for the lead.
“The race would have been a lot closer, but Get Serious saw [jockey Eddie] Castro move up [aboard Get Stormy] at the half-mile pole just to be in a better spot,” said Bush. “When Pablo Fragoso [on Get Serious] saw Castro move Get Stormy up, Get Serious came flying up beside Get Stormy and shot to the lead. And Eddie was screaming at him, ‘Where are you going? Where are you going?’ He was just holding his spot, and they moved way too soon in the race. And that’s how come he got caught. He couldn’t let Get Serious go on once that happened. But Get Stormy ran good that day. He really did.”
Castro once again will ride Get Stormy, who was made the 4-1 third choice on the morning line. The tandem will leave from post 3.
Guys Reward, a 5-year-old, enters the Fourstardave off three straight wins at Churchill Downs. After posting half-length victories in an optional claimer in May and the Opening Verse Stakes in June, the son of Grand Reward posted his first graded stakes score when he captured the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap by two lengths on July 1. Earlier in the year, he chased Wise Dan in vain when third by 13 ¼ lengths in the Ben Ali, contested on Keeneland’s Polytrack.
“[The Fourstardave is] a tough spot, but he’s a good horse and an improving horse,” said Dale Romans, who trains Guys Reward for Michael J. Bruder. “He’ll be all right. He ran big [in the Firecracker], and he’s gotten better and better the older he gets. He did just what we wanted to do [when he breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on Sunday at Churchill Downs]. He doesn’t need to do a lot. He’s an old horse and he’s plenty fit.”
Corey Lanerie will come in to ride Guys Reward, 6-1, from post 4.
Dennis Narlinger’s Upgrade will stretch out in distance off a three-quarter-length win in the Grade 3, seven-furlong Jaipur on June 8 at Belmont Park, his first graded stakes score. Trained earlier in his career by Chad Brown and Scott Volk, Upgrade has made three starts for Michelle Nihei, including a narrow victory in an optional claimer in March at Gulfstream Park and a fifth in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May at Belmont.
“We’re confident [the Fourstardave is] the right race for him,” said Nihei. “We just want to make sure he’s in the right company. We like 6 ½ [furlongs], seven, even 7 ½. I think a mile is the limit of how far that horse wants to go, but he’s doing so well right it’d be tough to find a race to say, ‘You know, let’s just wait until the next opportunity.’”
Joel Rosario has the mount aboard Upgrade, 10-1, from post 8.
The Fourstardave also drew Right One, second in the Jaipur prior to finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Poker in July; Surfrider, who looks to make amends after finishing ninth as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Highlander in June; Corporate Jungle, winner of the Elkwood in May and fifth in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in June; and Yield Bogey, fifth in the Willard Straight on opening weekend here at the Spa. Crossbow was entered for the main track only.