Gerald and Susan Kresa’s speedy King Kreesa (King Cugat) put in a tremendous effort in the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave H. Saturday at Saratoga, setting the pace and keeping in the fight to the end after being passed in late stretch by reigning Horse of the Year and 2-5 favorite Wise Dan.
Toting an impost of 117 pounds to Wise Dan’s 129 pounds and, on paper, the speediest horse in the line-up, King Kreesa shot to the front after the break under regular jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
The 4-year-old gelding controlled the pace at the rail through early fractions of 24.24 and 47.48, a length and a half ahead of Skyring. Wise Dan traveled right behind to the inside of Lea, the 9-2 second choice.
As King Kreesa continued to lead at the head of the stretch, Wise Dan got off the rail exiting the turn and advanced, drawing even with King Kreesa. King Kreesa stayed stubbornly in the fight, finally losing the top spot with a sixteenth to go and finishing second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the champion. Lea finished 5 1/4 lengths back in third.
After King Kreesa clocked six furlongs in 1:10.59, Wise Dan completed one mile on the inner turf course in a dazzling 1:34 flat over the “good” turf, just .58 seconds off the track record.
Trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who applauded Wise Dan when he entered the winner’s circle, said, “I knew [King Kreesa] was going to keep digging. With 129 pounds, [Wise Dan] still had the heart to run him down. It takes a real nice horse, and he is a champion.”
Englehart added, “[Wise Dan] had a serious competitor today, and as good as both horses are doing I was really happy with my horse’s effort. Obviously, [Wise Dan] is a champion.”
King Kreesa’s jockey Irad Ortiz said, “I had a lot of horse at the quarter pole, and I thought I could win the race, but Wise Dan is a great horse. I knew he was going to come. I just waited and let my horse pick it up. My horse tried hard.”
King Kreesa rode back-to-back frontrunning stakes victories into the Fourstardave – the Kingston for New York-breds on June 1 and Grade 3 Poker on July 4, for which he earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure (103) — both at the same one mile distance as the Fourstardave. Also open-length winner last June of the NYSS Spectacular Bid division at Belmont and the open London Company, King Kreesa has multiple graded placings, second in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at 23-1 odds in last October by just a half-length and this year third in both the Grade 3 Appleton at Gulfstream and Grade 3 Fort Marcy at Belmont.
King Kreesa is now 5-4-2 from 15 starts and, with the Fourstardave placing, pushed his earnings over the half-million dollar mark to $534,370.
Bred by Gerald Kresa under the banner of Horse Partners, King Kreesa was foaled at Carlland Stables in Avon. He is the most successful of three winners out of Storm’s Advance, a Florida-bred daughter of Storm Creek who was a multiple winner and stakes-placed on turf ($94,652). Her first foal, Zip by You (City Zip), is a multiple winner and earner of $141,706. Storm’s Advance has a 2-year-old filly by Stonesider named Lady Kreesa and a yearling colt by Malibu Moonshine named Moonsurge.
King Kreesa’s sire King Cugat, a multiple Grade 2-winner and millionaire by Kingmambo, stood in New York in 2008 and 2009 under the management of Questroyal Stud.