06/07/2001 11:00PM

Fourstar Brother finds his true calling


While on the racetrack, New York-bred Fourstar Brother lived in the shadow of his more successful full brothers Fourstardave and Fourstars Allstar, a pair of New York-breds whose combined earnings topped $3.2 million.

Long retired, Fourstardave, 16, and Fourstars Allstar, 13, are ranked second and third, respectively, on the all-time list of New York-bed money earners.

Fourstardave, a gelding, competed in a charity race in Ocala, Fla., this spring, and Fourstars Allstar is a Coolmore Stud sire in Ireland.

Their little brother Fourstar Brother earned far less than they did - $120,039 with three wins from 28 starts - but the 9-year-old Fourstar Brother is now finding a niche for himself outside of racing. A gelding, he recently embarked on a new career as a show horse and has the makings of a useful jumper, according to his new connections.

Fourstar Brother, by the retired New York sire Compliance, out of Broadway Joan, was retired from racing in 1998 because of a recurring problem with a tendon, which wouldn't hold up under the strain of racing. Bred and co-owned by Richard Bomze, who also raced Fourstardave and Fourstars Allstar, Fourstar Brother was trained by Leo O'Brien and later by O'Brien's son, Keith, who bought him from Bomze and tried him over jumps before the horse's retirement.

In one of his four hurdle starts, Fourstar Brother had the lead after the final fence, but fell when he encountered a patch of uneven ground.

Fourstar Brother was retired without winning a jump race, but Leo O'Brien said he saw enough to know the horse was a natural over fences.

"He didn't have the heart of his brothers and he had his tendon problem, but I knew he would have made a tremendous jumper," Leo O'Brien said.

Keith O'Brien ended up donating Fourstar Brother to the New York Horse Rescue, which under the direction of its president, Mona Kanciper, finds suitable homes for Thoroughbreds who are no longer able to race and aren't used for breeding. In many cases, the horses are retrained for careers in the show ring.

Kanciper placed Fourstar Brother with Rae Eastwood, who trains show horses at her farm in Georgetown, Ky. Eastwood also acquired Iron Gavel, a veteran on the New York circuit and a winner of $707,487, through the New York Horse Rescue and is preparing him for a career in the show ring.

Eastwood said Fourstar Brother was a quicker study than Iron Gavel and that within days of Fourstar Brother's arrival at her farm last fall he was eagerly scrambling over fences of 2 1/2 feet in height.

Eastwood said one of the reasons Fourstar Brother adapted so quickly to his new vocation was because he had experience over hurdles.

"That helped," Eastwood said. "Another thing about horses who train on the flat is that they are trained to go forward, so when they see the jumps, they don't argue with the idea of going over them."

Nailing the jumps on your home turf is all well and good, but Fourstar Brother's real test came earlier this year when he was brought to Gulfport, Miss., for the Gulf Coast Winter Classics, an eight-week series of horse shows. Eastwood said the Winter Classics are A-rated shows, somewhat similar to a top-class racing circuit.

In the classes in which Fourstar Brother competed he was judged, in part, on his ability to navigate and jump over a course of fences three feet in height.

In his maiden competition, Fourstar Brother finished sixth among 40 horses - not bad for a rookie. Overall, Eastwood said, Fourstar Brother competed in 18 classes and only had a single refusal - when he slammed on the brakes in front of a fence.

"He has wonderful manners and is such an easy horse to ride," Eastwood said. "He has the potential to be a nice show horse - a horse who could be worth $40,000 to $50,000 as a jumper."

o A full sister to Fourstar Brother, Diane Suzanne, is making a name for herself these days. Diane Suzanne, who is owned by Bomze, is the dam of multiple stakes winner Mystic Lady, a Kentucky-bred who beat males in the $100,000 Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park on May 26.