by Ryan Martin
In its first 34 runnings, no filly or mare has won the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, but two entries are looking to buck history when graded stakes-winner Got Stormy and Grade 1-winner Uni face eight males in Saturday's featured race.
The one-mile event over the inner turf at the Spa is a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series Race offering a 'Win and You're In' berth to the Breeders' Cup Mile set for November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap and Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special will be broadcast live on NBC as part of a 1 hour national show from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.
Got Stormy, owned by Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable, makes a one-week spin back after winning the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on Saturday off of two placings against graded stakes company, including a game third in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and a second in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs.
A win in the Fourstardave would give Got Stormy a second graded stakes win. Last July, she won the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen over the Woodbine turf.
"She won it about as easy as a horse can win it," Casse said of her winning effort in the De La Rose. "We're going to enter in there, and we're going to look at the race. She trained great [Wednesday] morning."
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. is named the rider for Got Stormy, who drew post 6 carrying 114 pounds. Her sire, Get Stormy, won the Fourstardave in 2010.
Casse also has entered March to the Arch in the Fourstardave, who will attempt this second graded stakes victory.
Owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, March to the Arch won the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs two starts back before finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple on July 12 at Saratoga where he was only beaten 1 ½ lengths.
"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."
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, a three-time stakes winner this meet, will pilot March to the Arch from post 1 carrying 119 pounds.
Uni, a 5-year-old More Than Ready bay mare, is unbeaten in five starts at the one-mile distance and seeks a second career Grade 1 win.
"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 Grade1 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.
"I think the weights are a bit favorable for her," Weisbord continued. "She'll get a couple of pounds from Grade 1 older colts. We know she'll come with a turn of foot in every race she's run for us. We're super excited to give her a shot. A couple of breezes on the grass and if she were be able to tackle this group, then we would look at the Breeders Cup Mile, but we don't want to get too ahead of ourselves."
Uni enters the Fourstardave off of five consecutive victories. Two starts ago, she notched her first Grade 1 win in the Matriarch at Del Mar. A winner of three graded stakes, her lone start this year took place in the Perfect Sting at Belmont Park, which she won by one length.
Uni is one of three entrants trained by Chad Brown, who also has entered Peter Brant's Grade 1 winner Raging Bull [post 4, Jose Ortiz, 122 pounds] and Three Chimneys Farm's graded stakes winner Made You Look [post 9, Jose Lezcano, 116 pounds].
Jockey Joel Rosario, who piloted Seek Again (2014) and Tourist (2016) to victory in the Fourstardave, has the call aboard Uni, who will leave from post 3 carrying 117 pounds.
Invading from Europe for the Fourstardave is Godolphin's Group 2 winner Ostilio, who makes his first start since a distant eighth in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge at Newbury in May.
The 4-year-old chestnut son of New Approach is trained by Simon Crisford and seeks his first win since the Group 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein in October at Longchamp.
Jockey Andrea Atzeni will pilot Ostilio from post 5 carrying 120 pounds.
Completing the field are Dr. Edgar [post 2, Julien Leparoux, 118 pounds], Krampus [post 7, Junior Alvarado, 118 pounds], Hembree [post 8, Luis Saez, 117 pounds], and Gidu [post 10, Manny Franco, 116 pounds].
The Fourstardave is slated as Race 9 on Saturday's 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.