Fourstar Crook up in the shadow of the wire to win the Grade 2 Hillsborough

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

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By Sarah Mace

Fourstar Crook’s seasonal debut was a thriller. The 6-year-old daughter of Freud (Sequel Stallions) uncorked a perfectly-timed rally from off the pace under Irad Ortiz, Jr. and got up in the shadow of the wire to win the Grade 2, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday.

Chad Brown, who trains the mare for Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Aisquith, had the challenge of successfully preparing Fourstar Crook to go 1 1/8 miles on the grass at a new racetrack after a 5-month winter vacation. Fourstar Crook was last seen finishing third in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor in October at Woodbine, which was run on “soft” turf which she did not much relish.

Exiting post three under Irad Ortiz, Jr. as the 7-2 third choice in the classy group of ten, Fourstar Crook raced well off the pace for the first three-quarters of a mile, saving ground at the rail. Longshot Dynatail set the fractions, clocking splits of 24.26, 49.45 and 1:13.14 while pressed along by fellow-longshot Lovely Loyree.

The pace of the race and the excitement picked up in the far turn. Fourstar Crook, who had bided her time at the fence in seventh and eighth, shifted out a path and advanced a couple of spots, then fanned out three-wide into the lane. Meanwhile upset-minded Procter’s Ledge (7-1) circled the pacesetters and took over the lead heading into the stretch.

Fourstar Crook worked her way further out into the clear in upper stretch, then unleashed her hallmark closing kick. She passed her remaining four rivals in the final sixteenth and got up just in the nick of time to edge Proctor’s Ledge (7-1) and win by a head. After one mile in 1:36.91, she stopped the clock after nine furlongs over the firm turf in 1:48.43.

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“She broke so good and I just stayed on the rail to save all the ground I could, because I knew I had to have a good trip to beat this field,” said jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.

“She is getting better and better every time. I just saved ground and when I tipped her out, she gave me a good kick in the end. When we got to the eighth pole I didn’t know if we were going to get there, but I just kept riding my horse hard and she got the job done.”

Chad Brown reverted to the vital issue of surface. “She prefers firm turf, and it was soft [when she finished third in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor], so I thought that was a good effort. She’s a good mare and very consistent. She ran terrific today.”

Fourstar Crook has gone from success to success since breaking her maiden on October 18, 2015 at Aqueduct. Never off the board since, she kept a winning streak going for eight races after the maiden score, while collecting stakes wins in the 2016 Yaddo and John Hettinger and 2017 Mount Vernon for New York-breds. She picked up her first graded black type in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial on July 4 at Parx Racing. Second in the Yaddo last summer at Saratoga, Fourstar Crook repeated as the Hettinger winner before her show finish in the E. P. Taylor.

Bred by Kathleen M. Feron and foaled at Akindale Farm in Pawling, Fourstar Crook sold as a yearling to Allied Bloodstock at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale for $55,000. A $70,000 buyback when offered at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton March 2-year-old sale, she was purchased by owner Michael Dubb for $110,000 at the auction company’s Midlantic sale.

Fourstar Crook is one of six winners out of the Avril a Portugal by D’Accord, who was bred by John Hettinger. Her Coaltown Legend (Jump Start) earned over $325,000.

From 10 wins, two seconds and a third in 15 starts Fourstar Crook’s earnings bankroll stands at an impressive $813,166. Two full siblings to Fourstar Crook are in the pipeline: a juvenile filly and a yearling colt.


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