The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series rages on with four “Win and You’re In” races in two different countries over the weekend. On Saturday, August 10, Arlington hosts the Beverly D. Stakes and Arlington Million, while Saratoga will run the Fourstardave Handicap. The next day, horses in France will try their luck in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held for the 36th time, returning to Santa Anita Park in California on Nov. 1-2.
The 14 Breeders’ Cup races attract the best Thoroughbreds in the world to compete for more than $30 million in purse money and awards, and the selection of starters in each race is determined in part by a points system for graded stakes and the selection criteria of a panel of experts. However, there is one way for an owner to bypass the secondary criteria and secure a spot for their horse in a Breeders’ Cup race, and that is by winning a stakes race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Fourstardave, a one-mile Grade 1 turf event at Saratoga, was added to the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series Presented by America’s Best Racing this year. First run in 1985 as the Daryl’s Joy Stakes, it was renamed in 1996 after its two-time winner(1990-91), known as “The Sultan of Saratoga.” The Fourstardave is one of the perennial highlights of Saratoga’s summer race meet, and it’s also been a very influential race on the Breeders’ Cup starting back in 1985, the second year of the World Championships. Mourjane finished third in the Turf at Aqueduct and went on to win the Daryl’s Joy in ’86.
In 1989, the abovementioned Steinlen won the Daryl’s Joy Stakes two starts prior to his Arlington Million score; he tallied a win in the Mile that fall and won the Eclipse Award as champion turf male. And in 1993, the sensational Lure romped by three lengths in the Daryl’s Joy two starts before scoring a repeat win in the Mile. Posting two Breeders’ Cup wins and more than $2.5 million in earnings, the Shug McGaughey-trained Lure was voted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Three years later, another horse scored the Fourstardave-Breeders’ Cup Mile double – the hard-knocking Da Hoss. That Michael Dickinson-trained gelding defined courage after his ’96 Mile win as he was sidelined for nearly two years before coming back and improbably winning another Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1998.
Jump ahead to the mid-2000s and champion and eventual Kentucky Derby-winning sire Leroidesanimaux won the Fourstardave in 2005 and finished second to Artie Schiller in that year’s Mile. And earlier this decade, the Fourstardave was an integral part of two Horse of the Year campaigns for the ever-popular Wise Dan. Mort Fink’s gelding scored back-to-back wins in the Fourstardave and in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in both 2012 and 2013. During a span from October 2011 until his retirement in 2015, Wise Dan won 17 of 19 starts and was second twice by margins of a head and 1 ¼ lengths, and he was undefeated on turf – truly one of the most impressive peak-form runs by a racehorse this century.
The Fourstardave-Mile linkage has remained strong during the second half of the 2010s. In 2016 and 2017, a pair of top-class turf milers won both races: Tourist and World Approval, respectively. Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval was honored at the Eclipse Awards as 2017 champion turf male for his campaign.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on NBC Sports with the Fourstardave Handicap from Saratoga on August 10. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on NBC.