Lousiana-bred standout Star Guitar , on a five-race roll for trainer Albert Stall Jr., has nine rivals in his way as he tries to defend his title in the $200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship, the headline event in a series of 10 stakes worth a total of $1 million at Delta Downs Feb. 6.
The surprisingly high number of entrants prepared to face Star Guitar in the 1 1/16-mile event reserved for state breds includes a three-horse entry from Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. Star Guitar, assigned top weight of 125 pounds, is the 1-2 early-line favorite. He won last year's Louisiana Premier Night Championship by seven lengths as part of a heavily-favored entry.
Star Guitar, a 5-year-old homebred son of Quiet American --Minit Towinit, by Malagra, is owned by Maurice and Evelyn Benoit's Brittlyn Stable. A lifetime winner of 11 of 14 starts and $708,458, the bay horse's current winning streak has come entirely in stakes company. Star Guitar is coming off a 7 3/4-length romp in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic Dec. 19 at Fair Grounds.
Nine of Star Guitar's victories have come in stakes, all but one of those against state breds.
Regular rider Curt Bourque has the mount on Star Guitar, who is to break from post 7 with his stalking style while spotting his rivals seven or nine pounds apiece.
The three-horse entry, pegged at 7-2 on the morning line, includes a pair from the Steve Asmussen stable, Hallway and Hear No Angel. Both are coming off stakes victories.
Hear No Angel, a lightly-raced 4-year-old, won the one-mile Cocodrie Stakes by a neck Jan. 10 in his only prior start at Delta Downs. It was the first stakes victory for the Eavesdropper colt, a four-time winner in seven starts.
His stablemate Hallway, a 6-year-old son of Graeme Hall , won the off-the-turf Dixie Poker Ace by a nose over Desert Wheat Jan. 9 on a fast main track at Fair Grounds. Hallway has finished in the money in 18 of 28 starts, including five wins, while totaling $327,617 in purses.
The third horse in the Heiligbrodt entry, Snug, finished a close third in the Dixie Poker Ace after opening a clear lead in the stretch and weakening late. A 5-year-old Swamp gelding, Snug is a multiple stakes winner for trainer James C. Hudson with earnings of $304,300 from a 5-4-3 record in 21 starts.
Ide Like a Double, to be ridden for the first time by Patrick Valenzuela, looks to end a five-race skid for trainer Bryon Gilbert and owner Valene Farms. The 5-year-old multiple stakes-winning son of Ide ran second, two lengths behind Star Guitar, in the Gold Cup at Delta Downs in October. Ide Like a Double has won seven of 23 starts with earnings of $458,996.
Elsewhere on the Premier Night card, Superior Storm is the 3-5 morning line pick in a field of nine to contest the $150,000 Distaff at 1 1/16 miles.
The $125,000 Starlet, for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, drew an evenly-matched group of 10 headed by The Rumor's True, pegged at 7-2. It's counterpart for 3-year-old males, the $125,000 Prince, also at seven furlongs, is likewise a competitive affair with 3-1 choice Productive Envoy leading the field of 10.
There are two other features worth $100,000 apiece: the Matron, for older fillies and mares at five furlongs, and the Sprint, also at five-eighths of a mile.
$200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship Stakes (Race 10, 10:02 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
#/PP Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1/3 *Snug (LA), D Saenz, 116, J C Hudson, 7/2
1A/8 *Hallway (LA), S Bridgmohan, 118, S M Asmussen, 7/2
1X/9 *Hear No Angel (LA), S J Sellers, 118, S M Asmussen, 7/2
2/1 High Toned (LA), D L Bourque, 116, S M David, 10/1
3/2 Ide Like a Double (LA), P A Valenzuela, 116, B J Gilbert, 8/1
4/4 Up and Out of Site (LA), J Theriot, 116, E J Guillot, 20/1
5/5 Lee's Spirit (LA), D E Simington, 116, R D Schultz, 12/1
6/6 Stormy M. T. L. (LA), R Villafan, 118, A Milligan, 20/1
7/7 Star Guitar (LA), C C Bourque, 125, A M Stall, Jr., 1/2
8/10 Break Up (LA), G Melancon, 116, B A Brinkman, 10/1
(*) Heiligbrodt Racing Stable entry
Blinkers On: Break Up