Star Guitar won the Louisiana Champions Day Classic in 2009 and 2010 (shown).

Star Guitar won the Louisiana Champions Day Classic in 2009 and 2010 (shown).

Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts

Louisiana Champ Star Guitar Gets Real Test

Three-year-old Populist Politics looks ready for big effort in Champions Day Classic.

Perfect so far in 2011, Star Guitar  will be seeking his third consecutive win in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Dec. 10.

A lifetime earner of more than $1.4 million, Brittlyn Stable's 6-year-old homebred Star Guitar has treated Louisiana Champions Day as his personal playground, winning the Juvenile in 2007, the Sprint in 2008, and the Classic the past two years at Fair Grounds by a combined 12 lengths. The son of Quiet American is on a six-race win streak and has prevailed in eight of his 10 starts over the track.

This time around, however, the the 124-pound top weight may have a serious rival in the 1 1/8-mile event, now in its 21st year. Populist Politics, a 6 1/2-length victor in the off-the-turf Mr. Sulu Stakes for state breds Thanksgiving Day at Fair Grounds, takes on the Louisiana champion as part of a seven-horse field.

“The Classic may turn out to be a real ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’” Star Guitar's trainer Al Stall Jr. said recently.

“Everything seems to be on track for us,” he added. "But Populist Politics is a nice looking horse, too. The Classic has been kind of a ‘ho-hum’ affair for Star Guitar the last two years. Maybe with Populist Politics in there, we’ll bring a little more excitement to it on Saturday.”

The Classic, race 11 on the Champions Day program, is set for 4:55 p.m. CST. The race is one of eight stakes for Louisiana-bred horses worth a combined total of $800,000. In addition, there are three Quarter Horse stakes worth $100,000 apiece, which kick off the 13-race card at 12:10 p.m. CST.

Star Guitar, to be ridden by Corey Lanerie from post 6, has won 20 of 26 lifetime starts, including all five of his races this season. The bay horse is coming off a 2 1/2-length victory in the one-mile Gold Cup against state breds at Delta Downs Nov. 5. That was his first start since scoring a repeat triumph over open company in the Evangeline Mile Aug. 13. He breezed a half-mile in :50 1/5 in his final tuneup over the track Dec. 5.

A 3-year-old, Populist Politics will get five pounds from Star Guitar for his first start since a convincing win over older horses in the Nov. 24 Mr. Sulu at one mile and seventy yards. Third in the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs in September, the son of Don't Get Mad has won three of fours starts at Fair Grounds for owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence.

Tom Amoss, a nine-time training champion at Fair Grounds, conditions the bay colt, who possesses a lifetime record of 4-2-2 in 12 starts and earnings of $268,395. Populist Politics drilled a half-mile in :47 4/5 Dec. 3. James Graham retains the riding assignment and they will break from post 4.

“Star Guitar is the champ,” said Amoss, who was Stall's classmate at Newman High School and roommate during their years at Louisiana State University. “But Populist Politics had a very good work. Also, I can tell you my horse is a much better horse now than he was when he raced here last spring because he’s a much more mature horse mentally than he was at that time. But is his best effort good enough to match up with that old veteran over there? I don’t really know that it is, but it will be fun to see.”

Also entered is the Stall-trained Kissimmee Kyle, a stakes winner at Fair Grounds in March who came up empty when fourth behind Populist Politics in his first start since that victory. Robby Albarado rides the 5-year-old son of Gold Tribute for Red Oak Stable. Kissimmee Kyle is cross-entered in the Champions Turf.

The Louisiana Champions Day program includes six other stakes worth $100,000 apiece: The Ladies for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles (races 6), the Lassie for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs (race 7), the Ladies Sprint for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs (race 8), the Juvenile for 2-year-old colts and geldings at six furlongs (race 9), the Turf for 3 and up at about 1 1/16 miles on grass (race 10), and the Sprint for 3 and up at six furlongs (race 12).

$100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic (Race 11, 4:55 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Break Up (LA), G Melancon, 118, B A Brinkman
2. Candiano (LA), C McMahon, 118, E Schwandt
3. Kissimmee Kyle (LA), R Albarado, 118, A M Stall Jr.
4. Populist Politics (LA), J Graham, 119, T M Amoss
5. Eighth At Citypark (LA), K D Clark, 118, S Breaux
6. Star Guitar (LA), C J Lanerie, 124, A M Stall Jr.
7. Heavenville (LA),  D E Simington, 118, A Milligan