Sassy Little Lila brings speed to Fourstardave; juvenile stakes ahead at Del Mar, Saratoga

Profile Picture: James Scully

August 7th, 2017

Elevated to Grade 1 status in 2016, the $500,000 Fourstardave H. at Saratoga lived up to its new rating when Tourist came back to capture the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) last fall at Santa Anita. Tourist notched the third Fourstardave/Mile double in five years, with Wise Dan winning back-to-back in 2012-13 along the way to Horse of the Year titles.

Powerhouse stables will be represented by top contenders in Saturday’s 34th running of the one-mile turf affair, with Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) victor American Patriot expected for Todd Pletcher and Manhattan (G1) runner-up Time Test from Chad Brown, and a speedy filly will add intrigue to the Fourstardave storyline.

Sassy Little Lila will be sent from the start and gets in with only a 112-pound impost. An impressive wire-to-wire maiden winner on Saratoga’s turf last year, the 4-year-old will try to keep improving in her third start of the year for Brad Cox. She exits a game second in the June 10 Just a Game (G1) at Belmont, recording narrow runner-up finishes in both graded stakes attempts, and Cox expects to see his charge setting the pace Saturday.

"We're thinking it's coming up a short field. Not a light field, but a short field,” Cox said of the decision to face males. “She has speed. We'll just see how it plays out. We're getting in light. It's an interesting spot and she's doing great, so we think she's up for that challenge."

Cox skipped last weekend’s De La Rose for fillies and mares in favor of the Fourstardave.

“She's sitting on a big effort," the conditioner added.

This weekend marks the midway point of the Del Mar and Saratoga meets and a trio of juvenile graded stakes will be offered.

Serengeti appears to be training forwardly for Saturday’s $200,000 Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar, logging a recent 5-furlong bullet workout for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who will seek to pad his record with a ninth victory in the 6 ½-furlong race. The Algorithms colt exits an 11-length maiden romp at Santa Anita on June 25.

Run Away, who improved to 2-for-2 for Peter Miller with a 1 ½-length tally in the July 3 Santa Anita Juvenile, must be considered a major player. Patrick Biancone is expected to ship in from Florida the well-regarded Diamond Oops, a son of Lookin at Lucky who remained unbeaten with a facile stakes triumph at Gulfstream Park on July 1.

Saratoga has the $200,000 Adirondack (G2) for fillies on Saturday and the $200,000 (G2) Saratoga Special (G2) for males the following day.

Copper Bullet is one to watch for in the 6 ½-furlong Saratoga Special. A brilliant maiden winner at Churchill Downs in his second start, the More Than Ready colt has displayed immature behavior finishing second in his other two appearances.

He was rank entering the far turn of the June 30 Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs, rushing forward along the inside to challenge before easing back to stalk the action, and proceeded to run up the heels of rivals in traffic, hopping in place while being steadied leaving the far turn. Copper Bullet finished up well when clear and is eligible to offer a much-improved showing for Steve Asmussen if he can keep his head together.