08/10/2017 2:10PM

Fourstardave a mixed bag

Barbara D. Livingston
Disco Partner goes for his fourth straight victory on Saturday in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga is a fascinating race featuring a filly, a New York-bred who has proven he can do more than sprint, an American who disappointed in Europe, and a European who has twice disappointed in America.

And that doesn’t include the improving Ballagh Rocks and World Approval, the only millionaire in the field for the one-mile turf race.

“It’s wide open,” said Christophe Clement, the trainer of the New York-bred Disco Partner, who set a North American record for six furlongs on turf (1:05.67) in winning the Grade 3 Jaipur at Belmont in June.

Disco Partner is coming off a 3 1/4-length victory in the Forbidden Apple Stakes going a mile at Belmont, his third win in as many starts this year. Disco Partner was previously trained by Jim Ryerson, for whom he won five races from 15 starts.

Disco Partner closed off a slow pace to win the Elusive Quality in April, took advantage of a fast pace to win the Jaipur, and came from off an average pace to win the Forbidden Apple.

“I was impressed with every single race,” Clement said. “He’s got good tactical speed – place him wherever you want. He has a great turn of foot.”

With Irad Ortiz Jr. at Arlington Park on Saturday, Tyler Gaffalione will come in from Florida to ride Disco Partner from post 5 in what will be a six-horse field after the scratch of main-track-only entrant Weekend Hideaway.

Sassy Little Lila is a filly taking on the boys in the Fourstardave. Her connections prefer the one-mile distance for Sassy Little Lila, who was beaten three-quarters of a length by Antonoe in the Grade 1 Just a Game going a mile at Belmont on June 10.

Sassy Little Lila looms the controlling speed under Luis Saez. She gets in at 112 pounds, nine fewer than co-highweights American Patriot and World Approval.

“It was a great effort last time,” said Brad Cox, who trains Sassy Little Lila for Sheep Pond Partners and Michael Ryan. “She will have to move forward to beat these horses, but we do think it’s in the cards.”

Time Test was a multiple group stakes winner in Europe before owner Juddmonte Farms shipped her to Chad Brown. In two starts for Brown, Time Test finished second, beaten a nose, in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy at 1 1/8 miles in May and second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Ascend, in the Grade 1 Manhattan going 1 1/4 miles in June.

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Brown believes the horse hung a bit in the late stages of those two races and is hoping the turnback to a mile will prove beneficial to Time Test.

“The horse always trained with a tremendous turn of foot,” Brown said. “He’s coming into the race in great shape. I’m interested to see what he does at a mile.”

American Patriot won the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile in April before shipping to England, where he finished 11th in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“He never really seemed to get into a good rhythm,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He’s come back, he’s trained well, he looks good, he gets back to what we know he does best, which is a two-turn mile.”

Ballagh Rocks won the Grade 3 Poker over Projected, his fourth win from his last six starts, all coinciding with the addition of blinkers.

“I think that’s helped him a bit, just to get him focused,” trainer Bill Mott said. “He was a big dummy.”

World Approval is a Grade 1 winner at 1 3/8 miles and won the Grade 3 Saranac here in 2015 at 1 1/8 miles. On turf, he has never run shorter than 1 1/16 miles, the distance at which he won the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico in May.