Today’s Grade I Fourstardave Handicap will be a showdown of an established regular in the Grade I route circuit and an upstart looking to join those ranks when Raging Bull (9-5) and Set Piece (5-2) break from the gates.
This is another in a long line of Grade I one-mile turf races for Raging Bull, who had run exclusively at that class, distance and surface in every race since August 2019 up until his last race, the Grade III Poker Stakes. However, despite demonstrating speed levels good enough to win the
Fourstardave in years past, he only earned two wins over those nine races. He is a great closer, and his jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., has gotten him to make his move earlier in his last two races, a win and a place. But the inconsistency over time suggests he can be beaten by other competitors with more drive.
Set Piece appears to have that drive, though he has more of a home run or strikeout stat line. Another proven closer, he can be expected to be found dueling with Raging Bull in the stretch, and his recent history of five wins in his last seven starts suggests he will be the one to emerge. This will be Set Piece’s first Grade I race since the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket in May 2019, but he won the Grade II Wise Dan Stakes in his last outing, so he does not appear to be outclassed by the field.
Blowout (6-1) looks on paper like the horse that Set Piece and Raging Bull will try to catch in the stretch, and her history suggests they will. She has seven places in 12 starts and has never finished outside of the money. Expect her in the mix, but not in the winner’s circle.
Field Pass (8-1) is coming off an expected, but not opinion-changing win in the Grade III Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup Stakes. It was arguably the worst of his last five races based on his Brisnet speed rating, but could be the impetus for a break out.
The eighth race is home to the best bet on the card, Ducale (9-5). A winner at Saratoga exactly four weeks ago, Ducale edged away from a very game Askin For a Baskin to break his maiden in his second try. A win here vaults him to the next level, and continues the hot streak for trainer Brad Cox, who enters Friday with the top win percentage among trainers with at least seven starts in the meet.
The best value pick is Cold Hard Cash (6-1) in the third race. The New York-circuit regular has been competitive in each of his last four races, regardless of the level of public backing, and looks to be thriving in his move to the turf. He has finished behind Klickitat in each of their last two meetings, but a move to jockey Jose Ortiz should be enough to propel the Linda Rice trainee to the front.
7-War Smoke, 1-Giramonte, 5-King Angelo, 4-Dashing Circles.
7-Askin For a Baskin, 5-Sound Money, 9-Laughing Boy, 3-Sticky Issue.
9-Cold Hard Cash, Maker Entry (1-Absam and 1A-First Line and 1X-Atone), 5-Klickitat, 8-St. Joe Louis (The Maker Entry becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
3-Palamos, 2-Investment Income, 7-Tekila, 4-Point Wild (2-Investment Income becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
3-Win With Pride, 7-Inscom, 9-Wagon Boss, 2-Hammerin Aamer.
2-Power Agenda, 10-Montauk Point, 8-General Strike, 9-Don’t Wait Up.
4-Restore Order, 3-Assiduously, 9-Public Information, 11-Holy Emperor.
5-Ducale, 3-Ten For Ten, Pletcher Entry (1-Mahaamel and 1A-Ashiham), 4-Speaker’s Corner.
8-Doctor Jeff, 5-Midnight Worker, 7-Double Thunder, 2-Gunite.
5-Set Piece, 1-Raging Bull, 8-Blowout, 7-Field Pass.
4-Dr. Blute, 11-High Limit Room, 7-Luna’s In Charge, 5-Clamor (14-Ninth Hour becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
Price Talk (second), Supply and Demand (fourth), Sue Ellen Mishkin (sixth), Wondrwherecraigis (ninth), Well Done West (tenth).
Record for meet: 64 for 222.
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