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Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, August 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM


By John Piesen

Wise Dan will be odds-on from the one-hole in a field of seven for the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap late Saturday afternoon (NBC) at Saratoga.

On an August weekend curiously lacking a single Grade One event, the Fourstardave -- a Grade 2 at one mile on the turf -- is the richest and  most important race on either coast and all points in between this weekend.

Even more curious, you’ve got a situation in which a stakes race named for the most charismatic racehorse to perform in the 150 years of Saratoga is being conceded to arguably the least charismatic Horse of the Year in history.

Nothing against Wise Dan; he’s a very nice horse with an impeccable record (16-for-23), but he’s done most of that winning on the grass, and most of his winning up to a mile.

Wise Dan’s resume resembles that of Lure, and Lure never won an Eclipse Award much less a Horse of The Year. And Dan won HOY only because his connections ducked the Breeders’ Cup Classic for the Mile, and because Game On Dude and Point of Entry were beaten favorites in more lucrative BC races. 

As for the Fourstardave Handicap, a race Wise Dan won last year by beating Corporate Jungle and Get Stormy, WD will be a short price with jockey Velazquez on class lines alone.

Coincidentally, Johnny V is the son-in-law of Leo O’Brien, Dave’s trainer.

Wise Dan, a 6-year-old gelding, has won six Grade Ones while his six opponents Saturday  collectively have won a combined zero grade ones.Moreover, Dan is two-for-two on yielding, a distinct possibility in view of a forecast of stormy weather.

Normally, Wise Dan would be 3-5 in the Fourstardave, but feel safe to drop the price to 2-5 since a local fellow won a lottery which allows him to play 15K on a horse of his choosing, and that fellow -- a Spa-based financial planner named Adam McNeill -- no doubt will put the 15K on Wise Dan.

Hey, you can’t fault the guy. Nothing wrong with a snappy 21K payday.

But, on the other hand, he could shoot the works and put the 15K on Skyring at 20-1.

Yes, yes I know that trainer Lukas this year is 0-for-60 at Churchill and Saratoga, but he did find time to win two big ones at prices-- Oxbow in the Preakness, and the very same Skyring (at $50) in the Dixie on the same program. 

Moreover, as a four-year-old, Skyring is getting two years from Wise Dan, and gets a huge break in the weights.

When they met three races back, in a turf mile stake at Keeneland, Wise Dan beat Skyring, who had a wide trip, by four lengths while conceding five pounds.
In the Foustardave, the concession will be 11 pounds (129 to 118). That also will mean less dead weight on Skyring because the heavier Alvarado replaces Rosie.

We know that Wise Dan likes the Spa green, but so does Skyring. He was a troubled second in the Saranac, beaten a half-length, while giving four pounds to the winner.

If you’re thinking trifecta, you need to look at Lea.

The four-year-old Lea has been favored in six of his seven starts (four of them wins). is 2-for-2 on the Spa lawn, and 2-for-2 with Rosario.

Moreover, trainer Stall is batting .300 at the Spa meet, and just last week, his Departing, Lea’s workmate, won the West Virginia by 10 lengths.

Hey, just the other day, the John Piesen Hot Line (888 612 2283) struck a $480 trifecta at the Spa. With luck, this tri could hit big, although not that big.

A reminder: on Sunday, management will give away Fourstardave bobblehead dolls. Richard Bomze, Dave’s owner, can’t make the rip from Florida due to health issues, but O’Brien will be on hand for the promotion, as will several of Dave’s riders, including Johnny V and the Mig, and members of the Bomze family.

Johnny V has a shot at a stakes double Saturday, In the secondary feature, the 100K Auntie Mame for 3-year-old fillies on the grass, he rides Silsita, already a stakes-winner at the meet, for main man Pletcher.

The daughter of Macho Uno picks up five pounds to 122-pound co-topweight.

Summer of Fun, Praia and Bella Castani all are major players in the 12-horse field.

One handicapping tip: through Thursday, horses from the one-hole going six furlongs on the Spa main track are 1-for-32.

This is no coincidence. Most horses on the rail going three-quarters break behind the field and are toast. Check it out.

Couple of personal points:

In last week’s column on this venue, I pointed out that the Mountaineer oddsmaker made an horrendous mistake by making the Pletcher-trained Overanalyze the program favorite over Departing. I said that Departing was a cinch to be the ML as well as post-time favorite.

Sure enough, Departing was favored every flash, went off as the 7-5 chalk, and won by nine.

Unless you subscribe to BloodHorse, you don’t know that Rockport Harbor passed away this week at age 11.

Rocky, an incredibly handsome colt and literally the second coming of Smarty Jones for trainer John Servis, was indeed going to be a superstar, but his career was virtually ended when he was stepped on by an Ernie Paragallo horse while winning the Remsen at Aqueduct.

Talk about a coincidence.

While my son Michael last week was preparing to board a plane at Sydney for his flight back to the United States, a plane carrying Animal Kingdom, was landing at the next gate.

AK, the Derby and Dubai Cup winner, is to start his breeding career Down Under.

Thanks for tuning in. Back next week for a look at the Alabama, keep the Hot Line at your ready and check out my Saratoga plays online, and may the Bucs improve on the best record in baseball.

Finally, Detroit may be bankrupt but its chances of beating New York in both baseball and football Friday evening is pretty good.

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