08/05/2007 12:00AM

Silver Tree scores in Fourstardave


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When Silver Tree has lost at Saratoga, it has taken a championship caliber horse to beat him. There were no such animals in Sunday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap.

Silver Tree, under Kent Desormeaux, exploded in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the Fourstardave by three-quarters of a length over Drum Major. It was one length back to Host in third.

Woodlander finished fourth and was followed by Giant Basil, Brilliant, the 9-5 favorite who stopped badly after taking the lead in mid-stretch, and Fishy Advice.

Silver Tree, a 7-year-old son of Hennessy, finished second in this race in 2004 to Grade 1 winner Nothing to Lose and was second in 2005 to the champion Leroidesanimeaux. Silver Tree also finished second in the 2005 Bernard Baruch to Artie Schiller, a Breeders’ Cup winner. Silver Tree’s only prior Saratoga victory came in the 2004 Bernard Baruch, beating Nothing to Lose.

Under Desormeaux, Silver Tree stalked the pace-setting Giant Basil through fractions of 24.57 seconds, 49.24 and 1:13.29. Brilliant, under Mark Guidry, shot through an opening along the rail to take the lead at the eighth pole, but he stopped suddenly while Silver Tree kicked into gear down the three path of the inner turf. Silver Tree, owned and bred by Peter Vegso, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.88 and returned $8.70 to win.

Sunday's victory was Silver Tree’s third straight win in 47 days.

"He's had several races close together, but I guess maybe the fact he's a seasoned old war horse it's not that tough on him," trainer Bill Mott said.

Silver Tree's victory kept Mott's excellent meeting going. Mott, who won or shared eight trainer’s titles from 1992-2001 was atop the Saratoga standings through Sunday with a record of 8 for 32.

"I love being in here in these kind of races - the Diana, the Fourstardave - that's what it's all about," said Mott, who won the Diana with My Typhoon. "Hopefully, we can land in here another time or two before the meet's over."

The mystery of the race was Brilliant.

"It's not like him to stop like that, he could've bled I don't know yet," trainer Neil Howard said.

* Loose Leaf ($8.30), who had one horse beat turning for home, split horses inside the three-sixteenths pole under Desormeaux and drew clear to a 3 3/4-length victory over Past the Point in the $82,000 Lemon Drop Kid Stakes for 3-year-olds. Loose Leaf, a son of Notebook owned by Stan and Steve Kaplan and trained by Ken McPeek, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.67.