06/20/2012 4:39PM

Evangeline Downs: Star Guitar ready to shoot for his fourth straight Legends Night Classic

Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography
Star Guitar (No. 9) defeats Populist Politics (right) in the Costa Rising.

OPELOUSAS, La. – In what has become a wonderfully monotonous summertime routine, trainer Al Stall Jr. is putting the finishing touches on Star Guitar’s preparation as he gets ready for yet another defense of his Legends Night Classic title at Evangeline Downs on June 30.

The all-time leading Louisiana-bred earner of more than $1.6 million has won the last three runnings of the Classic against fellow statebreds as well as the last three Evangeline Miles against open company.

“We followed the same training schedule almost to the day as the last couple of years since it has worked out so well for us,” Stall said following Star Guitar’s five-furlong workout of 1:00 on Sunday morning. The move was second fastest of 43 at the distance.

“Same old Star,” Stall continued. “He is just so professional. We’ll blow him out next Saturday, and he should be ready to go.”
Star Guitar has been idle since winning the Costa Rising Stakes at Fair Grounds on April 1. That victory was the 7-year-old’s ninth straight and 11th from his last dozen starts in a period dating back to the 2010 Legends Classic. The winner’s share of the Costa Rising moved Star Guitar past Happy Ticket as the richest Louisiana-bred of all time. He is owned by Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, which also bred the son of Quiet American.

Corey Lanerie, who has ridden Star Guitar in eight of his last nine wins, will not be aboard for this year’s Legends, according to Stall. Veteran Gerard Melancon will replace him.

“Churchill runs that Saturday night,” Stall said of the track where Lanerie is battling for leading rider. “He’s committed to some mounts, including a nice 2-year-old. I just hope Miss Evelyn won’t be too upset. Gerard is a good fit, though, he has won on Star before.”

Stall and Benoit also will team up on Legends Night with Sunday’s Child in the Legends Filly Mile and the Legends Sprint with Beanwah’smachine. Each is a stakes winner and should vie for favoritism in their respective races.

No rematch for Populist Politics

Populist Politics, who has finished second or third behind Star Guitar in three meetings dating back to the Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds last December, will not be back for more on Legends Night, according to trainer Tom Amoss.

“I can’t beat Star Guitar,” Amoss admitted Monday morning. “It doesn’t make sense to ship all the way down there just to run for second money.”

Amoss opted instead for an allowance race with a $50,000 purse at Indiana Downs last Tuesday for Populist Politics. The novel conditions of the race read “for horses who have started in a restricted statebred race in 2011-2012.”

“It was an attractive race with an attractive purse,” Amoss said.

Amoss’ plan worked out perfectly as Populist Politics stalked the early pace in the mile and 70-yard test before kicking strongly clear through the stretch to win by almost six lengths.