SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Turf runners take the spotlight at the highest level of stakes action this weekend, including the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga Race Course.
Naturally, trainer Chad Brown will be well-represented in the Saratoga race, but he also has a loaded hand to play at Arlington Park in Chicago, where the Grade I Arlington Million card will include the Beverly D. for fillies and mares and the Secretariat for 3-year-olds.
Two females are entered in the Fourstardave, Brown's Uni and the Mark Casse-trained Got Stormy, who is wheeling right back after winning the De La Rose by four lengths last Saturday and whose sire, Get Stormy, won the Fourstardave in 2010.
"She won it about as easy as a horse can win it," Casse told the New York Racing Association. "We're going to enter in there, and we're going to look at the race. She trained great [Wednesday] morning."
Casse's other entry, March to the Arch, won the Grade II Wise Dan at Churchill Downs two starts back before finishing a close fifth on a yielding turf course in the Forbidden Apple at Saratoga on July 12. With no significant rain in the forecast, the turf courses should be firm on Saturday.
"I'm going to give him another try going a mile," Casse said. "I thought his race last time wasn't one of his best performances. I really don't have an excuse, so we're going to give it another try. He only got beat two lengths."
No female has won the Fourstardave in 36 runnings (it was previously named the Daryl's Joy), but the 5-year-old mare Uni is the 5-2 morning-line favorite while riding a five-race winning streak -- all at the Fourstardave distance of one mile -- that includes last year's De La Rose and the Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar in December. Her only start in 2019 was a win in the Perfect Sting at Belmont Park on June 29.
"She's one of our stable leaders, and she hasn't missed a beat aside form a few setbacks," said BSW Bloodstock's Bradley Weisbord, who manages Uni for owners Head of Plains Partners, Michael Dubb, Robert LaPenta and Bethlehem Stables. "She hasn't lost since October 2017, so it seems like she's found the mile distance to be perfect.
"She wants pace. Her race in the Matriarch was brilliant. She had an outside post and made a great run to just get up and beat a nice horse in Vasilika, which showed she had Grade I talent. She came out of that race a little jammed up, so we gave her time off with our minds set on a second half of the year campaign."
The two other horses trained by Brown in the race are Raging Bull, a Grade I winner who is coming off a close third behind stablemates Bricks and Mortar and Robert Bruce, and Made You Look, who was fourth by a length and quarter in the Forbidden Apple.
At Arlington, Brown has 8-5 favorite Bricks and Mortar and Robert Bruce entered in the Arlington Million, Fog of War and Valid Point in the Secretariat and Eclipse Award winner Sistercharlie, Competitionofideas and Thais entered in the Grade I Beverly D.
Brown has won the Arlington Million three times since 2013, including the last two. Robert Bruce and Almanaar finished 1-2 last year.
He saddled Beach Patrol to a victory in the Secretariat in 2016 and has won the Beverly D. five times since 2011, including the last four. Sistercharlie won it last year.
The second leg of Saratoga's graded stakes for 2-year-olds on the dirt appears to have drawn a wide-open field, as all eight colts will be stepping up to stakes company for the first time.
King Snake is the only horse in the Saratoga Special who isn't coming off a victory, but he was just a nose behind Peruvian Boy in a maiden race at Arlington Park on July 13.
Green Light Go is the 2-1 favorite off a 3 1/4-length win at Belmont Park on July 4.
AROUND THE TRACK
Trainer Tom Amoss said that Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress, who barely lost in a stretch duel with Covfefe in the Grade I Test, will point toward the Grade I $1 million Cotillion at Parx on Sept. 21.
"She ran really well, and I think her, along with the winner Covfefe, put on a great show," Amoss said. "I'm disappointed she ran second, but that's just how it goes." ...
Racing fans who are interested in tracking the progeny of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will get a double dose on Saturday, including one first-time starter who was sold for $1.4 million at the Keeneland September sale.
The bay colt Kittansett, out of Bsharpsonata, is entered in the fifth race for owner Larry Best of OXO Equine and trainer Chad Brown.
The other American Pharoah 2-year-old on the card, the bay colt Cardiac Kid, is entered in the seventh race for Fern Circle Stables and trainer Ken McPeek. ...
In a stakes-caliber fifth race on Friday's card, Spinoff pulled away in the stretch to win for the first time since February.
He was 18th in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Belmont Stakes before trainer Todd Pletcher tried him on the turf, to no avail. Spinoff was 11th in the Belmont Derby.
SECOND RACING DEATH
Sundae on Sunday, a 10-year-old ridgling trained by Michael Ferraro, was euthanized on the track last Sunday after collapsing at the half-mile pole during the running of the sixth race, the second racing death of the meet and the first since Fight Night broke down just past the wire on Day 2, July 12.
Since the Oklahoma Training Track opened in April, there have been a total of 10 equine deaths involving horses on the grounds, seven of which occurred since opening day of the race meet July 11.
Five of the deaths have been from incidents during training hours, and three were attributed to "non-racing" causes.