Odds-on Star Guitar cleared off in the stretch for his third consecutive Louisiana Champions Day Classic title at Fair Grounds Racecourse and Slots Dec. 10 (VIDEO).
Star Guitar defeated Populist Politics by 1 1/4 lengths while completing the 1 1/8-mile Classic in 1:53.15 on a fast track.
With the victory in the $150,000 event for Louisiana breds, the lifetime earner of $1,515,862 gained his 21st trip to the winner's circle in 26 races. Six-year-old Star Guitar captured a record fifth successive win on Louisiana Champions Day.
Evelyn Benoit's Brittlyn Stable homebred is now nine-for-11 at Fair Grounds. Al Stall Jr. trains Star Guitar. Stall and Brittlyn Stable combined for a victory in $100,000 Champions Day Juvenile two races earlier with 4-5 pick Beanwah'smachine.
By Quiet American, Star Guitar is out of the Malagra mare Minit Towinit.
Star Guitar, looking to stay perfect in six starts in 2011, was sent off at 3-5 odds with Corey Lanerie aboard. Populist Politics, who romped to victory in a restricted Fair Grounds stakes Nov. 24, was pegged at 11-10. The field was reduced to five by the scratches of Candiano and Kissimmee Kyle. Both ran in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf a race before the Classic.
Break Up, ridden by Gerard Melancon, took the early lead from Heavenville as Star Guitar was positioned in second, about a length behind Break Up. Populist Politics settled in behind the leaders in fourth for James Graham. Fractions were slow--the first quarter-mile in :25.32, :50.92 for the half, and 1:16.34 for six furlongs.
Lanerie asked Star Guitar to go leaving the quarter pole, and the bay horse responded to challenge the determined leader in the stretch. Populist Politics, shifted out slightly for the drive, seemed poised to threaten as well. But Star Guitar got his head in front at the eighth pole and came home swiftly in :12.38 for the final furlong. Under steady handling from Lanerie, the quick finish kept Populist Politics at bay.
"Corey’s riding so confidently right now, that was like one of his Churchill rides where everything’s moving in slow motion for him, literally, and he didn’t even budge until, like, the three-sixteenths (pole)," Stall said. "He made sure he kept Populist Politics tucked in there, and that was it.
“He’s a great horse. What else can you say? On a day-to-day basis he comes back from the track sound, eats well, coat’s beautiful, his mind’s not sour after all these years of grinding away. We’ll just continue to space his races and keep on going as far as he’ll take us.”
Stall indicated that Star Guitar would make his next start on Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs Feb. 4.
Populist Politics was three-quarters of a length in front of Break Up. Heavenville and Eighth At Citypark followed.
Star Guitar carried top weight of 124 pounds and paid $3.20, $2.10, and $2.10. It was his seventh consecutive victory since last year's Classic, which he won by four lengths. The exacta with Populist Politics, who carried 119 ($2.10, $2.10), was worth $4. Break Up was $3 to show.
"He’s so nice to ride. He’s push-button," Lanerie said. "Just keep a leg on each side and he does the rest. He’s just a phenomenal horse."
A race earlier, String King, ridden by Graham, was the first of three noses on the wire in a fantastic finish to the Louisiana Champions Turf. Kissimmee Kyle and Wildrally finished second and third, respectively, in the 1 1/16-mile test (VIDEO). The final time was 1:45.45 on firm going.
Charles Smith bred, owns, and trains String King ($10.20), a 3-year-old gelding by Crowned King--String Dancer (Fly a Kite). The winning time for six furlongs was 1:11.66.
Shane Sellers rode Beanwah'smachine, who is undefeated in three starts for Stall, to a half-length triumph in his stakes debut in the Juvenile (VIDEO). Beanwah'smachine is a 2-year-old bay colt by Ford Every Stream--Special Love (River Special).
Masculino was second, two lengths ahead of Validfromthegitgo.
Also on the Champions Day card, Speedacious, ridden by Miguel Mena, defeated 13-10 choice Little Polka Dot by 1 3/4 lengths in the $100,000 Ladies Sprint (VIDEO). Speedacious ($6.80), a 4-year-old Yankee Gentleman filly trained by Bret Calhoun for Carl R. Moore Management, completed six furlongs in 1:10.68.
The $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies went to 42-1 shot Izzie's Gold, who defeated Carmen's Mystery by four lengths in 1:11.86 for six furlongs (VIDEO). Sunday's Child, part of an entry sent off at 2-5, finished third. Izzie's Gold ($86.40), ridden by Melancon, is trained by Brett Brinkman for owner Walter L. New. The bay filly is by E Dubai.
Coteau Grove Farms' Harlie's Dreams ($9.60) nosed 9-10 choice Lawyer Tiffany to win the $100,000 Ladies Stakes with Robby Albarado aboard (VIDEO). The final time was 1:47.02 for 1 1/16 miles. The 4-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap is trained by Patrick Devereux Jr.
Louisiana Champions Day concluded with a 31-1 bomb when Amanecer de Oro prevailed over Bold Recruit by one length with John Jacinto aboard (VIDEO). Southern Dude, the 2-1 favorite, finished third. The final time for six furlongs was 1:10.64.
Steven Duke trains Amanecer de Oro ($64.20), a 3-year-olds son of Afternoon Deelites, for owner Northpointe Thoroughbreds.