ALONG CAME FOURSTARDAVE
A documentary that chronicles the extraordinary career and exploits of one of the most popular horses ever to compete at Saratoga. For almost a decade, FOURSTARDAVE, bred and owned by Richard Bomze, ruled over Saratoga like no horse before him. Nicknamed the, "Sultan of Saratoga," the New York-bred gelded son of COMPLIANCE - BROADWAY JOAN, by BOLD ARIAN, won at least one race at the historic Spa for eight consecutive years starting from his two-year-old season in 1987 until 1994. He raced 100 times and compiled a record of 21-18-16 with earnings of $1,636,520; he even set a course record of 1:38 4/5 for a mile and a sixteenth. Co-owned and bred by Richard Bomze, FOURSTARDAVE, was retired in 1995 after his 100th career start when failing to hit the board in six starts.
FOURSTARDAVE, a multiple statebred champion won 13 stakes races and among them were the Poker (1989, 1993), West Point (1989,1991), Daryl's Joy (1990, 1991), Jaipur (1990), and Empire (1987). It was on the turf that he excelled, winning 15 races and almost $1 million. Although he captured 13 stakes in his travelled career, he gained his fame at Saratoga, where each victory added to his popularity. He would win six stakes at Saratoga, in five consecutive years, while placing in four others. As he grew older and extended his consecutive-win record, he became a folk hero, as fans at the Spa cheered wildly each time he set foot on the racetrack. While the New York circuit was DAVE's domain, he still managed to win or finish on the board at Laurel, Finger Lakes, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Rockingham Park, Philadelphia Park, Calder, and Canterbury Downs.
"DAVE" was so popular that upon his retirement, he was feted at neighboring Siro's Restaurant, where he was presented with an edible key to the city and had the small lane named in his honor (Fourstardave Way). FOURSTARDAVE is also honored with a race in his name - the New York Racing Association renamed the Daryl's Joy, a Saratoga stakes, in his honor, which is run on the Travers Day undercard. In addition to all this, the New York Turf Writers Association, present its annual FOURSTARDAVE Award for special achievement at the Spa.
FOURSTARDAVE relished his place on the throne and all the idolatry that went with it. "He loved to pose for the camera," Bomze said. "Whenever he saw one he'd start to prance around." Parties and fundraisers were thrown in his honor. "FOURSTARDAVE" t-shirts and caps were a hot commodity at souvenir stands up and down Union Avenue and Saratoga Springs held a "FOURSTARDAVE Day". The horse was featured on CBS and other major TV news and sports shows. He was even paraded in the resort town of Lake George, some 30 miles north of Saratoga. Each year his trainer, Leo O'Brien, would walk DAVE to the Canfield Casino in Congress Park for the annual FOURSTARDAVE Party to raise money for the Belmont Child Care Association.
O'Brien said that although DAVE was a hyper horse, he was fantastic to be around. "He knew my voice," he said. "When I came back to the barn every night to check on the horses, as soon as he heard me speak he'd run to the front of the stall and whinny like crazy."
While DAVE's popularity was beginning to grow in the early 90's, his full-brother, FOURSTARS ALLSTAR, became an international star when he won the 1991 Airlie Coolmore Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I), becoming the first American-trained horse in history to win a European classic.
At the end of each racing season, DAVE, along with FOURSTARS ALLSTAR were sent to Dr. Leslie Hagan's Country Road Farm near Ocala, Fla., to "live the life of Reilly for two and a half months," as O'Brien put it. They then were sent to Tony Everard's Another Episode Farm to be put back in training before being shipped up to O'Brien.
Following his ankle fracture after stepping into a hole during the running of the 1994 Bernard Baruch, FOURSTARDAVE was brought back for his 10-year-old season. Saratoga was abuzz when DAVE hit town, even though he had failed to finish in the money in his first three starts at Belmont Park. Still, they flocked to the Spa, wearing their familiar FOURSTARDAVE t-shirts and caps to see if their hero could extend his Saratoga winning streak to nine seasons. Sadly, the old horse was never the same after his injury, and in three appearances at Saratoga he could manage only a fourth and two fifths.
It was decided after the Saratoga meet to retire DAVE to Everard's farm. "Richie was considering sending him to the Kentucky Horse Park, but DAVE hated cold weather," O'Brien said. "He couldn't stand it. Anything above 90 degrees and he was in heaven."
DAVE seemed to enjoy his new life but wasn't content to just laze around his paddock - he missed the competition. At the age of 12 in 1997, he participated in the High Hope Steeplechase in Kentucky in an amateur event for charity, and finished second. "They raised more money that year than any prior year," Bomze said. FOURSTARDAVE was shipped to Saratoga through 1999 for special appearances at the track. But after two years (1998 and 1999) of DAVE falling ill from the shipping, it was decided that he'd not return to Saratoga for anymore special appearances.
But in 2002, Bomze agreed to have DAVE, then 17, lead the post parade of retired New York-bred horses on New York Showcase Day October 19th at Belmont in an effort to help the New York State breeding program. The horse was sent to the barn of his former trainer Leo O'Brien at Belmont for some light training to unwind. On the morning of Oct. 15, O'Brien's son, Keith, who had been DAVE's regular exercise rider, mounted the old gelding and took him to the training track for a trot the wrong way. He said he could feel the horse's heart thumping over and over. "He just turned around and died of a heart attack," Bomze said. "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 enjoyed the most."
Bomze said the gelding had been galloped every day in retirement. "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."
Owner Bomze said, "I remember clearly Leo calling me up and saying, 'FOURSTARDAVE is dead.' At first, I refused to believe him, but Leo wasn't the type to kid around. Looking back, I guess I made a mistake. I should have left him at Tony's farm. He was the boss of all the young mares and the fillies and colts. He had a great life there. But I thought, at 17, he was still young enough to handle it. I think his death typified what kind of heart and competitiveness he had. Just getting on the track and thinking about running proved too much for him. He was a gladiator. We buried him in Clare Court on the Saratoga backstretch - the third horse to be buried there, joining MOURJANE (IRE) and A PHENOMENON."
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|