King Kreesa holds off closers to win the Poker.
Trainer David Donk is hoping that the third time is the charm when he sends out Gerald and Susan Kresa’s multiple stakes winner King Kreesa in Saturday’s Grade 1, $ 500,000 Fourstardave Handicap.
The 33rd running of the Fourstardave is the first since being elevated to Grade 1 status. Donk had initially planned to point King Kreesa to the $ 150,000 West Point Presented by Trustco for New York-breds August 26 off a second straight win in the Forbidden Apple Stakes July 16 at Belmont Park.
“He’s doing very well. It’s been kind of a typical pattern the last couple years. He just seems to do really well this time of year,” Donk said. “It was a big effort last time. Honestly, after I ran that day I just figured I’d come back in the West Point but the complexion of this race changed quite a bit a few weeks ago. There’s no Tepin, obviously, no Ironicus. It’s a very wide-open, very competitive spot.”
A gelded 7-year-old son of King Cugat, King Kreesa owns one win and three seconds from five career starts at Saratoga, the lone victory coming in the 2014 West Point. He finished second by 1 ¼ lengths to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the 2013 Fourstardave, and was fourth by a length in last year’s edition to Grand Arch, who also returns Saturday.
“His second to Wise Dan was obviously one of his best races, and last year was a very good race. It’s like we never remember who finishes second,” Donk said. “A really good effort with a really strong field, and a couple weeks ago knowing it was going to come up a little bit on the lighter side even though it’s a very competitive spot. He deserves the opportunity and a mile seems to be his best distance.”
For his career, King Kreesa has 10 wins, nine of them in stakes, with seven seconds, four thirds and $ 1,256,704 in purse earnings. Winner of the Grade 3 Poker in 2013 and 2015, he drew post position 7 in a field of 10 under meet-leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. and is 15-1 on the morning line.
“He’s amazing. He looks great,” Donk said. “He’s done really well and we’re just very fortunate to have been a part of it.”
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