08/02/2007 11:00PM

New twists to Fourstardave

Email

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -The defection of Remarkable News from Sunday's $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga dramatically changed the complexion of the Grade 2 event.

Remarkable News, who won the Fourstardave last year, would have been the favorite as well as the main speed of the race. But a negative reaction to the heat in Saratoga forced trainer Angel Penna Jr. to keep him in the barn. That, in turn, prompted the connections of several horses to join the fray, creating a 10-horse field.

With or without Remarkable News, Brilliant would have been a major contender in the 1o1/16-mile turf race. Brilliant, trained by Neil Howard, was beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill on Kentucky Derby Day.

After being found to have a high white blood cell count and missing several weeks of training, Brilliant returned in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on June 30 at Churchill and finished second to a loose-on-the-lead Remarkable News.

"He was doing all he could do, Angel's horse just ran a great race," Howard said. "I do think the race was a little better than it looked on paper because he missed quite a bit of training."

Brilliant will break from post 3 under Mark Guidry and high weight of 120 pounds.

When Remarkable News came out of the Fourstardave, Niagara Causeway, Fishy Advice, and Giant Basil came in.

Fishy Advice is an interesting longshot play as he cuts back in distance from a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap at 1 3/8 miles. Trainer David Donk said he had always wanted to stretch out Fishy Advice in distance, but it turned out to be a failed experiment.

"It took away his best style," Donk said. "He likes to rate, not be on the lead."

Host, a multiple graded stakes winner, enters the Fourstardave off a late-running third to Art Master in the Grade 3 Poker Handicap at Belmont. He found himself 17 lengths off the early pace, but came with a flying finish.

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of the 7-year-old Host, said his horse doesn't have to be that far out of it early on. John Velazquez replaces Chris DeCarlo.

"He's tactical enough," Pletcher said. "He went from one extreme to the other. It used to be we tried to get him back, covered up, now we're trying to keep him a little closer."

Silver Tree, another 7-year-old, finished second in the Fourstardave in both 2004 and 2005, the latter to champion Leroidesanimeaux. He won the Bernard Baruch here in 2004. A Bill Mott-trained son of Hennessy, Silver Tree has won his last two starts, including the $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap at Delaware Park just three weeks ago.

"Is it ideal? No," Mott said about running back in three weeks. "But what in life is? We turned him out [last fall] and he came good and fresh."

Trainer Mark Hennig has been working with Giant Wrecker to get him to relax and come from off the pace. He's finished in the money in each of his last two starts running that way after being a front-runner.

"We do like the way he's run in his last couple where he's settled a little bit," Hennig said. "You're going to become a better horse and win more races in the long run if you aren't one dimensional."