Photo of Saratoga morning by Eclipse Sportswire
There are four horses buried at Saratoga Race Course. The incredible filly Go for Wand is buried in the track infield - a singular honor. The other three horses are buried at the Clare Court Jogging Track. Mourjane and A Phenomenon were spectacular horses, but their resting-mate, Fourstardave, while perhaps not nearly as fast or fine, was a legend.
Saturday’s Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga was once called the Daryl’s Joy Stakes. That was before Fourstardave won the race twice in two years. That was before Fourstardave won at least one stakes race five consecutive years at the Spa, and managed to post at least one win at Saratoga every year for eight straight years. In his 10-year career, this tough gelding raced 100 times, with a record of 21 wins, 18 seconds and 16 thirds earned more than $1.6 million.
When Fourstardave entered the St. Paul Derby at Canterbury Downs, not many folks put much stock in his 2-year-old season in New York, where he posted a string of decent wins. He was set off at odds of 21.70-1 and upset the field to win his first graded stakes. He came back to New York with new confidence and a taste for running on grass, and proceeded to dazzle the Saratoga crowds year after year.
With each passing year, Fourstardave’s fan base grew and grew. They made signs, wore hats and shirts with his likeness, and they roared each and every time he set foot on the course. The fans never gave up on him, even in his final season at Saratoga, at the age of ten. Fourstardave didn’t post a win that year, but the fans cheered for him like he was Secretariat. He was then retired.
While Fourstardave stayed active in the community in retirement, continuing to participate in yearly parades and charity fundraisers, he soon grew bored of the simple life. At the age of 12, Fourstardave entered one last race - the High Hope Steeplechase in Kentucky. A charity event, the race was against amateurs. Fourstardave managed to finish second despite his age and showed them that he still had some gas left in the tank.
At the age of 17, Fourstardave succumbed to a heart attack. Fittingly, he died on the racetrack. He had come to Belmont to participate in a post parade of retired champion racehorses, and died during a light jog on the track that morning.
A past recipient of the key to the city of Saratoga Springs (it was edible), Fourstardave was laid to rest near the peaceful and serene Clare Court at his homebase, where he could be close to those who loved him most: his owners, trainers, riders, and fans.
Never before had a horse so simple captured the attention of so many and for so long. But while it is a much-deserved honor for this race to be named after him, I’m sure Fourstardave would like nothing more than for it to one day be named after the next horse to come along and break his streak. At least, I’m sure he’d like to see ’em try.