Updated on 09/16/2011 9:28AM

Fourstardave, 17, dies during gallop

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Fourstardave, one of the most popular New York horses of recent years, died Tuesday morning, apparently of a heart attack, while jogging on the training track at Belmont Park.

Fourstardave, a retired 17-year-old New York-bred, had been vanned to New York from Florida four days earlier to participate in Saturday's New York Showcase Day at Belmont, where he was scheduled to lead a parade of retired New York-breds.

While in New York, the gelding was in the barn of Leo O'Brien, his trainer during his racing career.

"He came here looking terrific," O'Brien said. "This is just unreal. He was always a great character to be around, with all his quirks. I guess he died doing what he liked."

Co-owned and bred by Richard Bomze, Fourstardave, a son of Compliance, was retired in 1995 after his 100th career start, the majority of them on the grass.

Fourstardave, a multiple statebred champion, earned $1,636,520 and had a record of 21-18-16. Among the 13 stakes won by Fourstardave were the Poker (1989, 1993), West Point (1989, 1991), Daryl's Joy (1990, 1991), Jaipur (1990), and Empire (1987).

Fourstardave, who is third on the list of the richest New York-breds of all time, won at Saratoga for eight consecutive years. In recognition of that feat, the New York Racing Association renamed the Daryl's Joy, a Saratoga stakes, in his honor.

Fourstardave had spent his retirement at Tony Everard's Another Episode Farm in Ocala, Fla. Bomze said Fourstardave, who competed in a charity race four years ago, wasn't content to just laze around his paddock.

"Tony galloped him every day," Bomze said. "This wasn't like a couch potato who was trying to win a marathon. He was very slim and trim and when he arrived in New York, [O'Brien] said he never looked better.

"We're very, very shook up," he added. "Oh gosh, he was my favorite for all the wonderful things he did for us. Only a handful of horses had that kind of heart."

Fourstardave's younger full brother, Fourstars Allstar, also was a New York-bred champion and won $1,600,048 for Bomze, who owned and bred the horse.