Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable, and Gary Aisquith's Fourstar Crook turned the tables on her Chad Brown-trained stablemate on Friday, capturing the G2 New York Stakes by a head over 1-2 favorite Sistercharlie. Sent to the post at 4-1 under Irad Ortiz, the 6-year-old New York-bred daughter of Freud traveled in mid-pack of a strung out field, found clear running room in the lane and had enough left to hold on through the wire. Fourstar Crook completed 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's firm turf course in 1:59.21, giving Brown his fourth win on the card and Ortiz his second.
“Both fillies ran tremendous,” said Brown. “This is the tale of two trips. Fourstar Crook is a very nice filly and a deserving winner.
“Sistercharlie really had a nightmare trip. [She] walked out of the gate, looked like she was making a move up the inside at the three-eighths pole and then got steadied, moved back, then for her to make a run again and to only get beaten by a head, she really ran a remarkable race. Disappointing to see her getting knocked out of position after her run at Keeneland, where I thought she was very vulnerable at a mile and a sixteenth and so tactical. Kind of weird to see her run her race all strung out. [The result was] disappointing, but her effort wasn't.
“Fourstar Crook, hats off her her, Michael Dubb deserves a lot of credit and his partners. Mike is the one who decided to race her at six which is not always the in thing to do and Mike loves this horse as do his partners. They are great partners, Mike Caruso [of Bethlehem Stable] and Gary Aisquith. They agreed to let us run her at six and they were rewarded today.”
Fahan Mura broke very sharply from the gate, winging out to an eight-length lead over the next runner through fractions of :23.12 and :46.39. She was followed by Esquisse, and then it was another 12 lengths back to Snowy Winter and Holy Helena. Empressof the Nile and Fourstar Crook were tracking those two, while Sistercharlie had hopped at the break and was last of them all down the backstretch.
Rounding the far turn, the pacesetters began to collapse as the field of fillies and mares found their best strides. Fourstar Crook was the first to challenge Fahan Mura, who gave way easily, but Ortiz knew he had to keep an eye out for his stablemate. John Velazquez tried to be sneaky with Sistercharlie, swinging her to the inside of Fourstar Crook at the last second, but he came up a head short as Fourstar Crook crossed the wire in front. Daddys Lil Darling got up for third while Mom's On Strike ran well to finish fourth.
“The speed horses opened up way too much, so I didn't pay attention to that,” Ortiz said. “I just rode my filly. She was comfortable, so I didn't try to do anything crazy. I kept her covered up, saving ground, like the owner and Chad wanted. I just rode my filly and she was there. I kept riding her and she held on. Sistercharlie was flying, but she held on.”
Bred in New York by Kathleen Feron, Fourstar Crook was originally sold for $55,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale. Dubb purchased the filly at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale for $110,000. She broke her maiden in her fourth start, then went undefeated for seven more races, including the G3 Penny Memorial at Parx. Fourstar Crook has not finished worse than third since that start, compiling a record of 11-3-1 from 17 starts for earnings of over $1.2 million.
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