By Keith McCalmont
SARATOGA SPRINGS – LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s Casa Creed successfully defended his title with a late surge to collar Grade 1-winner Annapolis and notch a three-quarter length score in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, a one-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds and up, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and piloted by Luis Saez, the 7-year-old Jimmy Creed bay earned a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Santa Anita Park. In victory, he becomes the fourth dual winner of this event, joining Got Stormy [2019, 2021], Wise Dan [2012-13] and the namesake Fourstardave [1990-91] – the “Sultan of Saratoga” – who captured the prestigious test when it was run as the Daryl’s Joy.
Casa Creed made his fourth straight Fourstardave appearance, finishing third in his first two attempts before breaking through last year with a 1 1/2-length score over eventual Champion Female Turf Horse Regal Glory. The victory also made Casa Creed a dual Grade 1-winner of a NYRA stakes for the second time after winning the Jaipur in 2021-22 at Belmont Park.
Co-owner Lee Einsidler of LRE Racing was left in awe of Casa Creed’s performance.
“To run in four straight Fourstardaves, regardless of where you finish is a ridiculous accomplishment,” Einsidler said. “To win it two years in a row and win it today at 7 years of age. He’s remarkable. I’m thinking maybe we’ll bring him back and try again next year.
“They tell me that he’s known as the Mayor of Saratoga, maybe after today he’s the Governor of Saratoga,” said Einsidler, regarding fan favorite Casa Creed. “That was really special. He’s an amazing racehorse and today’s performance was just fabulous.”
My Sea Cottage, one of three entrants for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, along with Ice Chocolat and Full Screen, set swift splits of 23.31 seconds and 46.57 over the good going with So High saving ground in second to the inside of 6-5 mutuel favorite Annapolis with Casa Creed another path wide in fourth.
The Irad Ortiz, Jr.-piloted Annapolis, who closed late to finish second to Casa Creed last out in the Grade 3 Kelso here, made an early move into the final turn and gained ground with every stride on the stubborn pacesetter with six furlongs elapsing in 1:10.14.
Annapolis took command at the stretch call, but the evergreen Casa Creed found more with every stride and collared his familiar foe with an outside rush in the final jumps to stop the clock in 1:34.20. It was a half-length back to the late-running Ice Chocolat in third with My Sea Cottage, Emmanuel, Full Screen and So High rounding out the order of finish.
Casa Creed is now a five-time winner at Saratoga. He graduated at second asking in August 2018 in a seven-furlong main track sprint. On Saturday, he earned his fourth graded win traveling one-mile over the Spa’s inner turf, adding to his one-length score over Annapolis in the one-mile Grade 3 Kelso on July 15 here along with wins in the 2019 Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and last year’s Fourstardave.
“This is the place to be. Everybody wants to be here and win these kinds of races,” Saez said. “It’s something very important to me and it’s special to the owner, Mr. Lee. He gives a lot to the sport and for us and everybody. I’m so grateful to win this for him.”
Casa Creed has made three previous Breeders’ Cup appearances, finishing off-the-board in both the 2020 Grade 1 Mile at Keeneland and 2021 Grade 1 Mile at Del Mar and ninth in last year’s Turf Sprint at Keeneland. With the Grade 1 Turf Sprint being contested at five furlongs this year at Santa Anita, the rugged bay will again point to the Grade 1 Mile as a year-end target.
“If we go, we certainly aren’t going to run five furlongs,” Mott said. “They could run it [6 1/2-furlongs] down the hill, but they don’t. If we go to the Breeders’ Cup, it would be the Mile.”
Bred in Kentucky by Silver Springs Stud, Casa Creed banked $275,000 in victory while improving his record to 33-9-5-5. He returned $5.70 for a $2 win bet.