SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — 7-year-old Casa Creed etched his name into the record book at Saratoga Race Course Saturday, becoming the fourth horse to win the Fourstardave Handicap twice.
The weather cooperated just enough at the Spa for a clean running of the $500,000, grade one race for three-year-olds and upward. This was Casa Creed’s fourth straight start in the Fourstardave. After back-to-back shows in 2020 and 2021, the William Mott-trained thoroughbred emerged victorious last year, but the repeat did not come easy.
Casa Creed wasn’t even the favorite, closing at 9-to-5 odds. That title belonged to the four-horse, trainer Todd Pletcher’s Annapolis, who sat atop the pre-race leaderboard at 6-to-5.
As the seven-horse field came around the final turn, one of the longshots, My Sea Cottage, maintained a slight lead running down on the rail. He was surpassed by Annapolis, and the two ran stride-for-stride down the top of the homestretch. Both horses were tracked down, though, by Casa Creed, who found his stride around the 1/16th pole. My Sea Cottage lost steam over the final stretch, and it became a two-horse race for the finish line between Casa Creed and Annapolis. With one last surge on the outside, Casa Creed managed to push past the four, and claim victory in the Fourstardave for the second straight year.
“We knew Annapolis was a tough horse; he’s a champion,” said jockey Luis Saez. “But we always believe in Casa Creed. When he came to the top of the stretch, it looked impossible. But we always have that confidence in him. He did a wonderful job. He got there, passed him (Annapolis) and that was a very exciting finish.”
The last horse to achieve the feat of two Fourstardave victories was Got Stormy, who won in 2019 and 2021. Casa Creed is the first to go back-to-back in the race since Wise Dan did so in 2012 and 2013.
Annapolis has finished runner-up in both stakes races he’s run this meet. He placed in the grade three Kelso Stakes back on July 15. The seven, Ice Chocolat, worked up to the show position.
That was proceeded by the $200,000, grade two Herb Moelis Memorial Saratoga Special Stakes for two-year-olds.
Prior to the race, the four, Haul, and the six, Rhyme Schemes were going back and forth for the top spot on the odds board. Rhyme Schemes ultimately closed at even money, and he showed why he deserved to be the favorite.
After making a move around the quarter-pole to assume the lead position, Rhyme Schemes left the rest of the six-horse field in the dust, flying down the stretch to dominate the Saratoga Special Stakes – winning by 9.5 lengths for trainer Norm Casse.
“Obviously, it’s an impressive win,” said Casse. “He’s been training really well from the outset of his career. You’re always apprehensive coming here to Saratoga – it’s a hard place to win. I didn’t want to take anything for granted, but he ran his race today, and he showed how good he is. I love that he’s so cool, calm and collected. When you watch him train in the morning, you can literally see that he has multiple gears underneath him when he’s moving. It’s just a proud moment to bring a horse over like that, and he runs the way he’s been training.”
The victory marked the first in a stakes race in Rhyme Schemes’ young career. The two, Market Street, placed, and Haul finished in the show position.
The first stakes race on the card came in race seven – the Galway Stakes. The 10-horse field opened up after the favorite, Love Reigns, fell behind on the backstretch. It’d come down to the seven, L J’s Emma, and the nine, Stone Silent, over the final 1/16th of a mile. Saez, riding L J’s Emma, induced a late surge from the 3-year-old filly, who narrowly pushed past Stone Silent in what was a photo finish. The win secured L J’s Emma her first career stakes victory, and the first win of the meet for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
Following Stone Silent was the three, Isabel Alexandra, in the show position.