Fourstar Crook upsets favorite in Grade 2 New York, turns millionaire

Friday, June 8th, 2018

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

In an oddly-run race where the pacesetter put more than 20 lengths between herself and the bulk of the field over the first half-mile, Fourstar Crook under a cool-headed Irad Ortiz, Jr. got the first run at the leader and held off 3-5 favorite Sistercharlie to win the Grade 2, $600,000 New York Stakes presented by NYRA Bets at 1 1/4 miles on the turf at Belmont on Friday.

The $330,000 winner’s share of the purse sent her lifetime earnings shooting past the million-dollar mark to $1,213,166.

Second choice in the accomplished field of nine at odds of 4-1, Fourstar Crook was the “other” Chad Brown horse in the race and looking to turn the tables on her stablemate Sistercharlie. When they last met in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 14, Fourstar Crook had to settle for second.

After the break, Fahan Mura threw down the gauntlet from her rail post and by the first point of call had put more than eight lengths between herself and her nearest pursuer Esquisse, and 16 lengths between herself and the third horse. Fourstar Crook raced in fifth with the bulk of the field, while Sistercharlie, who was squeezed at the start, lingered in last, 28 lengths behind the leader after a half in 46.39.

The complexion of the race changed in the far turn, after the 1:10.36 time for six furlongs took its inevitable toll on Fahan Mura. Fourstar Crook angled out three wide for the stretch drive, while Sistercharlie geared up from last. After being shuffled back rounding the turn, the favorite had her work cut out for her.

NYRA/Zoe Metz

Fourstar Crook got the first run at the top spot and took over command inside the furlong grounds. Sistercharlie came flying in the end, diving down to the inside of Fourstar Crook to try to run her down, but to no avail. The gritty Fourstar Crook dug in and held off the leader, prevailing by head in a final time of 1:59.21, the fastest New York since 1993, when Aquilegia covered the 1 1/4-mile distance in 1:59 flat. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. described his winning (and patient) strategy.

The speed horses opened up way too much, so I didn’t pay attention to that,” said Ortiz. “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.”

Chad Brown, who trains the 6-year old daughter of Freud (Sequel Stallions) for Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Aisquith, said, “Fourstar Crook, hats off 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.”

Bred by Kathleen M. Feron and foaled at Akindale Farm in Pawling, Fourstar Crook has won 11 races with three seconds and a third in 17 starts. Her $1,213,166 earnings bankroll enrolls her on the ever-growing roster of New York-bred millionaires (48 and counting). Her stakes victories include the Grade 2 Hillsborough, the Grade 3 Dr. James Penney Memorial, and four New York-bred stakes, the Yaddo, Mount Vernon and two editions of the John Hettinger.

The bay mare 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 Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic sale. Fourstar Crook has a juvenile full-sister named Kitty’s Legacy and an unnamed yearling full-brother.

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