The Guitar Hero video game franchise has been exceedingly popular, selling millions of copies worldwide. But it probably isn't half as popular in Louisiana as the state's own four-legged “guitar hero,” Star Guitar , who rolled to victory December 10 in his third consecutive Louisiana Champions Day Classic. Bred and owned by Brittlyn Stable, the 6-year-old horse is now 21-for-27 lifetime and in striking position to become the leading money winner among Louisiana-breds sometime next spring. With a bankroll of $1,515,862, Star Guitar is just $172,976 behind the record of $1,688,838 set by Happy Ticket while racing in 2004-2006.
Star Guitar is a son of Darley stallion Quiet American, who is still active at the age of 25. The son of Fappiano has for the most part lived up to his name; while his stud record has boasted highlights such as 1997 champion older female Hidden Lake, 1998 champion 3-year-old male Real Quiet, and 2000 English and Irish highweight 3-year-old female sprinter Warrior Queen, for the most part he has quietly gone about building a solid resume just below the top level. To date, the son of Fappiano has sired 509 winners (58%) and 54 stakes winners (6.2%) from 874 foals of racing age. His most recent star at the top level has been Switch, winner of the 2010 La Brea Stakes and the 2011 Santa Monica S. (both gr. I).
One of the best milers of his generation, as he proved with his win in the 1990 NYRA Mile Handicap (gr. I), Quiet American has a very closely inbred pedigree by modern standards. Not only is he inbred 3x2 to the great Dr. Fager, the broodmare sire of Fappiano and the sire of Quiet American's dam Demure, but he is also inbred 4x3 to Cequillo, the direct ancestress of both Fappiano and Demure. While he has had some success with inbreeding to Raise a Native's great sire son Mr. Prospector (sire of Fappiano)—most notably in Warrior Queen and 2010 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) winner Quiet Temper—he has done better with inbreeding to the Raise a Native/Native Dancer male line through other sources; Real Quiet, for instance, has a Raise a Native mare as his maternal granddam. Quiet American has also been a natural outcross for the ubiquitous Northern Dancer tribe, perhaps in part because his maternal granddam, Quiet Charm, is a daughter of Northern Dancer's sire Nearctic.
The survival of Quiet American's sire line appears to rest with two-time Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Midnight Lute (Real Quiet—Candytuft, by Dehere) and perhaps with 1999 Flamingo Stakes (gr. III) winner First American (Quiet American—In Jubilation, by Isgala), who was fourth on the Brazilian general sire list for 2010/2011. Star Guitar, of course, may also make a contribution when he finally retires to stud. But if Quiet American's male line does not survive, he will still have a legacy through his daughters, which include Cara Rafaela, dam of 2006 champion 3-year-old male and current leading second-crop sire Bernadini, and Quiet Dance, dam of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. To date, Quiet American mares have produced 56 stakes winners (5.6%) from 998 foals of racing age, and more are sure to come. Quiet American mares were notably effective with A.P. Indy, this cross producing nine winners and five stakes winners from 15 foals of racing age, and this may be a vein worth mining further with sons of A.P. Indy, especially those that are free of Mr. Prospector on the dam's side.
Minit Towinit, the dam of Star Guitar, was a two-time stakes winner in Louisiana-bred restricted company as a homebred for Brittlyn Stable and is also the dam of the similar stakes winners Favorite Minit (by Favorite Trick) and Grand Minit (by Grand Slam). She is a daughter of 1990 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) winner Malagra (by Majestic Light, by Majestic Prince, by Raise a Native), one of three graded stakes winners produced by the grade III-winning Viceregal mareRegal Gal. A useful regional sire in Louisiana from 1991 to 2005, Malagra is best known for his daughter Hallowed Dreams, who tied Citation's then-extant modern-day record of 16 straight wins while racing primarily in Louisiana-bred stakes company.
A full sister to three-time Louisiana-bred stakes winner Lettuce Loose, Minit Towinit is out of Roaring Fireplace, a winning daughter of the stakes-winning Damascus horse Silent Dignity. Roaring Fireplace, in turn, is out of the winning Iron Warrior(by Native Dancer) mare Fire Place Girl, a half sister to stakes winner Palmers Son. The female line traces back to Ornament, a full sister to the unbeaten English Triple Crown winner Ormonde and dam of the great English race mare Sceptre.
As of this writing, Star Guitar is tentatively penciled in to defend his title in the 2012 Premier Night Championship Stakes, his zest for racing apparently undiminished. That, perhaps, is bad news for the Louisiana breeding industry, which will have to wait another year for Star Guitar to reach the breeding shed. But for his many fans around the Pelican State, there will be at least one more season of watching Star Guitar rock on—good news indeed.