Updated on 09/18/2011 1:40AM

Costa Rising is Boxie's horse of a lifetime

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Since he was a child growing up in Sunset, La., Joseph Stanley Boxie has fooled around with horses, sometimes more than others. He rode match races at central Louisiana bush tracks before Evangeline Downs even opened, until in 1957 he took a spill and broke both his arms.

Boxie drove a city bus in Opelousas, La., while training a couple horses on the side. Retired from bus driving, Boxie dabbled in part-time landscaping, and was working on the lawn of one Charles Castille in Lafayette, La., when his ship came in.

Castille had owned Quarter Horses and Thoroughreds years ago. Hearing Boxie tell of a $5,000 claim that had brought back some $32,000 in subsequent purse earnings, Castille got the itch all over again. Castille made his landscaper his trainer, went out looking for horses, and eventually landed one named Costa Rising - and not out of any nickel claimer.

"We had a first-time starter we liked a lot," Boxie said when reached by phone on Wednesday. "And Costa Rising was a first-time starter in the same race. We knew we liked our horse, but Costa just blew right by him in the stretch."

That was in July 2005 at Evangeline, and Castille apparently made owner Delmar Caldwell an offer he couldn't refuse: $125,000 by Boxie's account. That was a huge price for a Louisiana-bred maiden winner, but Costa Rising has earned it all back and then some - over $300,000 since the sale - and even as a 3-year-old, he comes into Saturday's Louisiana Champions Day Classic as the probable favorite.

Costa Rising, a son of Royal Strand, has won seven straight races against Louisiana-bred competition, and has been pretty much untouchable since being stretched out to two turns earlier in the year. Costa Rising raced just one more time the summer Castille purchased him, finishing third in a $100,000 Evangeline stakes race.

"He had a light injury, a little suspensory problem, and it got him off five months," said Boxie, who has won 3 of 37 starts in 2006 with horses not named Costa Rising. "That was the best thing that ever happened with him. He was a big old colt, and he needed to get put together. We knew all along he'd be a route horse because of how big he was, and because of his daddy."

Boxie, 65, said he goes by Joseph Stanley because he knows too many other Joe Boxies.

"All my cousins," he explained.

Early Saturday morning, Joseph Stanley Boxie will load Costa Rising onto a van at the old Evangeline Downs training center and haul him and himself to New Orleans for Champions Day. And he may be driving a winner.

"This is the best horse I've ever had," he said.

Arceneaux seldom this prominent

A few years ago, a Fair Grounds fan might see the name of trainer Victor Arceneaux pop up in the entries a few times a meet, with a maiden or a statebred allowance horse in from central Louisiana. But Arceneaux has steadily advanced his business, and during the first week of this Fair Grounds season he already has started six horses, and Arceneaux has horses for three races on Louisiana Champions Day.

Among his chances is a 3-year-old named Brother Bean, who has won the first three races of his career by a combined 16 lengths.

"He's by far the best horse I've ever trained," Arceneaux said. "He's never been headed by a horse."

Whether being Arceneaux's best makes Brother Bean good enough to contend in the Champions Day Sprint remains to be seen.

"He's never been tested," said Arceneaux. "We don't know if that's as fast as he can run, or if he's got more in the tank, but he will get tested Saturday - there are some nice horses in there."

Brother Bean debuted with a galloping win this summer at Louisiana Downs, and Arceneaux's runners tend to win early. No wonder. He has spent much of his life breaking horses, and though Arceneaux bases at the Evangeline Downs training center, he has his own farm - fully equipped with a 5 1/2-furlong training track - not far from Evangeline. Arceneaux said he stopped riding young horses a couple years ago, but still oversees every step of their early training.

The horses often come out like Brother Bean, or the 2-year-old filly Anything But Quiet, who appears to have a decent chance in the Champions Day Juvenile Fillies.

Anything But Quiet made her career debut Nov. 24 at Fair Grounds, overcoming a demanding in-behind trip to win by more than four lengths.

"What was most impressive was the way she galloped out," said Arceneaux. "We did target Champions Day, and the whole game plan was not to rush her early in the year."

In the Champions Day Classic, Brother Bean's 4-year-old brother Mean Butterbean will try to stretch his ample sprinter's speed through 1o1/8 miles and two turns. That seems like a stretch - but with increasing regularity, Arceneaux is coming up with the stock to at least take a shot.