09/25/2016 6:32PM

Fourstar Crook notches sixth straight victory with Hettinger win


Twenty-four hours after joining forces to upset the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing with Connect, trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano were in their familiar roles as favorites and, ultimately, their familiar spot - the winner’s circle - as Fourstar Crook rolled to victory in the $125,000 John Hettinger Stakes at Belmont Park.

Emerging from behind cover and four wide in the stretch, Fourstar Crook made an eye-catching move from the eighth pole to the sixteenth pole to win the Hettinger by 2 1/4 lengths over The Tea Cups. It was three quarters back to longshot Selenite in third.

Old Harbor, last year’s Hettinger winner, finished fourth and was followed, in order, by Swear By It, Neck of the Moon, Invading Humor, Flipcup, and Jc’s Shooting Star.

The win was the sixth straight for Fourstar Crook, who just came off a win against many of these in the $125,000 Yaddo at Saratoga last month. Her streak began in a maiden race at Belmont Park last Oct. 8.

“Any horse that wins six in a row, I don’t care what division they’re in, it’s pretty impressive especially on turf where they’re so trip dependent,” Brown said.

“She’s really come around physically and mentally, she’s grown a lot. I’m really proud of her development, she looks to becoming a serious filly.”

Fourstar Crook, a daughter of Freud, was in seventh position down the backstretch as Invading Humor, the 2014 Hettinger winner, set fractions of 24.72 for the quarter, 50.15 for the half, and 1:14.35 over a turf course labeled firm but one that had divots kicking up all over.

Castellano kept Fourstar Crook behind horses until mid-stretch, when he guided through a hole toward the outside and she closed with a rush to get the victory.

Fourstar Crook, owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Aisquith, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.27 and returned $4.50 as the favorite.

“I was a little concerned with the lack of pace in the race, you could see the fractions were slow but the way she closed was very impressive," Castellano said.

Fourstar Crook will most likely make her next start in the $200,000 Ticonderoga at Belmont Park on Oct. 24, part of New York Showcase Day, but would be given the opportunity to try open company next year as a 5-year-old.