Halladay Scores Frontrunning Victory In ‘Win And You’re In’ Fourstardave

Harrell Ventures’ Halladay went back to his usual frontrunning style and maintained his advantage throughout every point of call, scoring his first graded stakes triumph in the 36th running of Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Fourstardave for older horses going one mile over the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The Fourstardave, named in honor of “the Sultan of Saratoga” who won a race at the Spa for eight straight years, is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event, which offers an automatic entry towards the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 7 at Keeneland.

Last out, the gray or roan 4-year-old son of War Front displayed different tactics and sat just off the pace in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at the Spa, which was won by pacesetter Somelikeithotbrown.

On Saturday, jockey Luis Saez hustled Halladay through the first few strides out of the gate, and the six-time winning colt responded, taking command heading into the first turn and led by 1 1/2 lengths through an opening quarter-mile in 23.85 seconds over a turf course rated “good”. Emmaus, a 20-1 longshot, stalked in second with defending Fourstardave winner and course record holder Got Stormy along the hedge in third.

“When I ride him, I always feel like he’s better on the lead,” Saez said. “He likes to fight. He’s a game horse. Today, the track is a little bit softer and he couldn’t break that fast from there but at the second jump he was right there.”

Through a half-mile in 47.19 seconds, Halladay maintained his advantage and received his cue from Saez as jockey Tyler Gaffalione, aboard Got Stormy, tipped the two-time Grade 1 winning mare to the outside and confronted the pacesetter down the stretch. Despite the late challenge from Got Stormy, Halladay would not be denied and hit the wire a 1 1/4-length winner in a final time of 1:33.32. Got Stormy was another 1 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Casa Creed.

Returning $12.60 for a $2 win bet, Halladay moved his lifetime earnings past the half-million dollar mark to $517,485 while cashing $220,000 in victory and keeping his consistent record intact at 14-6-2-4.

Never worse than fourth lifetime, Halladay added a third stakes win to his resume having won the Tropical Park Derby on December 28 and the Sunshine Forever on May 9, both of which were over the turf at Gulfstream Park.

Saez said that the most important thing was getting his horse to the front.

“That was the plan, I was trying to get on the lead. He likes to be on the lead and likes to run free and that was the key,” Saez said. “He handled it beautifully. I think the turf was a little soft; when we got to the stretch, it took a couple of steps to get going. But when he felt the other horse, he gave it everything and took off and won the race.”

The victory was a fourth stakes win of the meet for trainer Todd Pletcher, who trained previous Fourstardave victors Red Giant (2008) and Sidney’s Candy (2011).

“He’s gotten really good and we’ve seen it in the mornings in his training,” Pletcher said. “He’s been going great and we were confident going in that he was at his very best and we thought we had a bit of a pace advantage, so we wanted to take the race to them. He didn’t break great but once he got his legs underneath him, he settled really well and kicked really strong.”

Pletcher said that his last out fourth-place finish moved him forward into the Fourstardave.

“We felt like we learned a little something in there and applied different tactics today,” Pletcher said. “I think the real key is we’ve been able to get him to settle. We wanted to go to the lead today but when he got to the lead, he relaxed and pricked his ears and turned off the bridle. Before he would go to the front and continue to engage and never really settle. So, we’ve been working on that and that’s why in the last race when we were laying second, we were okay with it, because the plan was to get him to settle.”

Gaffalione said he was proud of the performance from Got Stormy.

“That was a big effort today,” Gaffalione said. “She settled nicely right behind the leaders. When we got into the stretch, I found some room and she finished up nicely. It was just tough to get by the winner since he put in a big effort today.

“It’s great to see her get back into form,” he continued. “It’s a step in the right direction and hopefully we can finish the year strong with her.”

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and Winchell Thoroughbreds, Halladay is out of the graded stakes-winning Tapit broodmare Hightap.

Completing the order of finish were Emmaus, Raging Bull, Without Parole, Uni, Valid Point and Chewing Gum.

Live racing returns on Sunday with the featured Grade 1, $500,000 Diana for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles over the Mellon turf. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

Sunday also will feature a mandatory payout in the Empire 6, which boasts a jackpot of $600,930 heading into the nine-race card at the Spa. The Empire 6 sequence kicks off in Race 4 at 2:54 p.m. ET.

The post Halladay Scores Frontrunning Victory In ‘Win And You’re In’ Fourstardave appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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