08/11/2011 2:44PM

Evangeline Downs: Star Guitar out for third straight Mile


OPELOUSAS, La. – Star Guitar, unbeaten in five starts at Evangeline Downs, will seek to keep that record unblemished as he goes for an unprecedented third consecutive Evangeline Mile on Saturday night. The 6-year-old earner of almost $1.3 million will take on seven foes in the track'smarquee event in the handicap division that will be worth $125,000. Joining the Mile on the expanded 12 program will be the $100,000 Lafayette Stakes for 2-year-olds at a mile on the turf.

Trained by Al Stall, Jr., Star Guitar comes into this year’s edition of the Mile riding a four-race win streak that began in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds in December of last year. A son of Quiet American, he won his third straight Louisiana Showcase here on July 2 against fellow Louisiana-breds and will be making his first start against open company since last year’s Mile, a race he won by a hard-fought length over fellow Louisiana-bred Ide Like a Double. His task in this year’s Mile appears to be more difficult, but Stall has pronounced his charge ready for the challenge.

“He’s been training like he always does, and he usually finds a way to win,” Stall said earlier this week from Saratoga. “Shane [Sellers] blew him out Sunday morning and said he went really well. He’ll be ready.”

Star Guitar faced a diminutive field of four opponents in winning the Showcase last month and changed tactics from his preferred stalking mode, controlling the pace from start to finish with Corey Lanerie in the saddle. Stall said a repeat of that front-running style is not likely to be the case Saturday night.

“He went to the front that night because it was basically a paceless race. That does not appear to be the case this time around, which suits us just fine. He is much better as a target horse, where he sits back and has somebody to run at.”

Star Guitar has been assigned high weight of 124 pounds for the Mile by Evangeline’s racing secretary, Coleman Lloyd. He will spot his rivals from six to 20 pounds. Lanerie will once again travel in from Kentucky to handle the riding chores.

Rated next in the weights is Southern Style at 118 pounds. Trained by Maynard Chatters, he is a two-time stakes winner at the meeting, taking the Need for Speed at five furlongs in late April and most recently the seven-furlong Oak Hall Stakes on July 16. A 6-year-old Forestry gelding, he is one of several who could contribute to a lively early pace. Carlos Marquez returns to the saddle.

Another potential pace player could be Crystal Moment. Unbeaten in three starts since Cecil Borel took over the training duties late last year, this well-bred son of Distorted Humor comes off a pair of allowance victories over the Churchill Downs turf at five furlongs. He will carry 114 pounds, including Borel’s younger brother Calvin who, like Lanerie, will be coming in from Ellis Park to ride.

Seven entered for Lafayette

Swass Like Me, second in the Minstrel Stakes on the grass at Louisiana Downs in June, and E Valentino, a winner of both of his starts while racing on the main track, should vie for favoritism in the Lafayette. Private Player, favored in the Minstrel and a winner at first asking here in late May, also will garner attention by the betting public.