Fourstar Crook pockets Grade 1 honors and Breeders’ Cup berth in Flower Bowl

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

After departing the New York-bred ranks for graded stakes competition this season, Fourstar Crook delivered a career performance Sunday when she charged home from off the pace to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl on the inner turf at Belmont Park. The Flower Bowl, which is part of the Breeders Cup Challenge Series, assures Fourstar Crook an automatic and free entry into the Breeders’ Cup Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs on the first weekend in November.

Trained by Chad Brown for owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Aisquith, Fourstar Crook is a 6-year-old millionaire by New York sire Freud (Sequel Stallions) who has battled, and sometimes beaten, the best fillies and mares in the turf division all season.

Opening her account on March 10, Fourstar Crook rallied to a head victory over multiple graded stakes winner Proctor’s Ledge. In her next three starts she split decisions with divisional leader Sistercharlie. Second to Sistercharlie on April 14 at Keeneland in the Jenny Wiley Stakes, Fourstar Crook turned the tables in June, when the pair contested Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont. In their most recent meeting, Fourstar Crook came up a half-length short when trying to run Sistercharlie down in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park.

In each race Fourstar Crook has followed the same playbook: relax early and unleash a devastating late kick. Chad Brown has spaced out Fourstar Crook’s races this year, so 57 days’ rest between the Beverly D and Flower Bowl was nothing out of the ordinary.

With Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons and heavily favored at odds of 4-5, Fourstar Crook stuck to her script, settling last of seven horses several paths off the rail. Meanwhile, Dubb-owned, Servis-trained New York-bred Feeling Bossy took the initiative, leading the field through accelerating splits of 25.71, 51.72 and 1:15.80.

About seven lengths off the pace along the backstretch, Fourstar Crook didn’t pass her first horse until the approach to the far turn, before she retired to the hedge for a ground-saving trip around the bend.

In the far turn pacesetter Feeling Bossy yielded the lead to a surging Onthemoonagain, another Chad Brown trainee, and the field tightened ranks. A confident Ortiz waited for the chance to tip Fourstar Crook out for the drive, then angled out five-wide at the head of the stretch.

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

After inhaling all her rivals but the new leader in upper stretch, Fourstar Crook hooked up with Onthemoonagain with a furlong to go. She took over the lead around the sixteenth marker and flew home a 2 1/2-length winner. The final time for 10 furlongs was 2:03.28 over the “good” inner Belmont turf course. The final quarter went the fastest, in 23.46. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“She flew home. She was going so comfortable and when I asked, she just exploded,” said Ortiz.

Brown was thrilled. “This horse ran super,” the conditioner said. “We expected a short field and that the pace wouldn’t be that strong, and it wasn’t, but she was able to overcome it. She’s a really consistent horse and she particularly likes Belmont. She ran to her odds. She seemed very deserving to finally win a Grade 1. When you look at who’s she’s beaten when she’s not in Grade 1s, and who she’s lost to by short margins, this filly is very deserving to finally achieve that and remarkable at age six.”

Continued Brown, “Michael Dubb and his partners have really done right by this filly her entire career. Every winter she’s gone to Ocala and rested, and every year she’s come back bigger and stronger. They’ve managed her very well.”

As to Fourstar Crook’s prospects for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf to be run at 1 3/8 miles, Brown said, “The way she finished today she surely looks like a mile the three-eighths won’t be a problem for her. We know that it will be a much deeper field, but she’s game and she’s not afraid to run against anybody, I tell you that. She’s a brave horse.”

Fourstar Crook is a model of consistency as well as bravery, having won 12 of 19 career starts with four seconds and third. She has shipped around, but Belmont has been the stage for her greatest achievements with seven wins in eight tries. The eight stakes victories that have helped Fourstar Crook bankroll $1,604,566 in earnings are: the Grade 1 Flower Bowl, Grade 2 New York Stakes, Grade 2 Hillsborough, Grade 3 Dr. James Penney Memorial, and four New York-bred stakes – the Yaddo, Mount Vernon and two editions of the John Hettinger.

Bred by Kathleen M. Feron and foaled at Akindale Farm in Pawling, the long-eared bay 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 is out of Avril a Portugal by D’Accord, an unplaced John Hettinger-bred mare. The producer of six winners, Avril a Portugal is also the dam of Coaltown Legend (Jump Start), who earned over $325,000. The mare currently has a juvenile full-sister to Fourstar Crook named Kitty’s Legacy with a placing from two starts, and an unnamed yearling full-brother. With no reported foal in 2018, she has been bred back to Freud.



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