02/02/2012 5:01PM

Delta Downs: Star Guitar targets fourth straight Premier Night Championship


By now, one would think, Star Guitar should have scared the competition away from Louisiana-bred dirt-route stakes. He has won the last six such stakes for older horses and has been defeated only twice in 21 races of the statebred-restricted variety. But the lure of second-money in a $200,000 race has drawn rivals out of the woodwork, with nine set to line up against the Louisiana kingpin Saturday night at Delta Downs in the Premier Night Championship, a race Star Guitar has won three years in a row.

The Championship, race 10, is one of six six-figure stakes on an appealing all Louisiana-bred 11-race program that also includes four rich starter-allowance stakes. First post is 5:45 Central, with the Championship scheduled for 10:01.

Star Guitar drew the far outside for Saturday’s race, and while 1 1/16-mile races over Delta’s bull-ring oval provide a long straight before the first turn, the draw can’t bring back good memories for Star Guitar’s connections. It was from post 10 in the Gold Cup two Novembers ago at Delta that Star Guitar suffered his last loss, a flat fourth-place finish at odds of 1-2.

“To this day, we have no earthly explanation for the way he ran,” said Al Stall, who trains Star Guitar for owner-breeder Brittlyn Stable.

Other than that shocking Gold Cup defeat, Star Guitar has owned Delta, winning his five other races there. Seen recently in Stall’s Fair Grounds barn, Star Guitar looked the picture of health at age 7, and he has hit every scheduled morning workout since winning the Champions Day Classic on Dec. 10 at Fair Grounds.

Populist Politics gave hints he might threaten Star Guitar’s supremacy on Champions Day, but was soundly defeated in the Classic. Trainer Tom Amoss adds blinkers to Populist Politics’s race equipment, but Populist Politics turned in a subpar performance finishing third as an odds-on favorite in a Jan. 14 Delta allowance.

Front-running Unitas might test Star Guitar. The 4-year-old gelding has recently shown vast improvement, winning a pair of two-turn races during the Delta meet by a combined 15 lengths.

Prince: Tough draw for ‘Beanwah’

In race 7, the Stall-trained, Brittlyn Stable-bred and owned Beanwah’smachine will try to win his fifth race without a defeat when he meets nine rivals in the $125,000 Prince. Beanwah’smachine also drew post 10, and this wide draw could hurt more than Star Guitar’s, since the seven-furlong Prince has a very short run into the first of two turns.

Beanwah’smachine, a Successful Appeal colt, already has won three times at the Fair Grounds meet, though an opening-day allowance-race victory might actually have been sharper than scores in the Champions Day Juvenile and a division of the Louisiana Futurity. And there are horses in the Prince who could spring an upset. Cajun Charlie won the Louisiana Legacy by almost six lengths when last seen in mid-November, and Zip Motion possesses a powerful finishing kick that suits Delta’s track configuration.

A third Brittlyn and Stall runner, 3-year-old filly Sunday’s Child, is stuck on the also-eligible list for the $125,000 Starlet, but Brittlyn sends out the Ron Faucheux-trained Bleu Darling in the race. Bleu Darling should show speed from the rail, but Delta-loving Little Miss Protocol looks like the one to beat.

Calhouns sends favorites in sprints

Trainer Bret Calhoun holds a strong hand in the night’s two $100,000 sprint stakes for older horses.

In the Matron, restricted to fillies and mares, Speedacious should be difficult to topple. She set a Delta five-furlong track record easily winning the race in 2011 and comes into Saturday’s start after a pair of sharp Fair Grounds wins.

Calhoun has two contenders in the Premier Night Sprint. Delta-debuting Bold Recruit, runner-up in the Champions Day Sprint, will be the shorter priced of them, but Su Casa G Casa also has a chance. His two races late last year following a long layoff weren’t up to par, but Su Casa G Casa ran well in three Delta starts during 2010 and 2011.

◗ Lawyer Tiffany might be favored in the $150,000 Distaff, a one-mile race, but she possesses no distinct edge on Harlie’s Dreams and Riley’s Monarch.