08/08/2012 3:34PM

Evangeline Downs: Star Guitar's future in doubt

Coady Photography
Star Guitar will miss the Evangeline Mile because of a quarter crack. The injury could result in the 7-year-old's retirement.

The end of an incredible era in Louisiana racing could be nearing.

Retirement is being discussed for Star Guitar, the all-time richest Louisiana-bred who will miss Saturday night’s Evangeline Downs Mile because of a quarter crack. The location of the hoof injury, as well as its timing, has prompted the talks between Brittlyn Stable and trainer Al Stall Jr.

The quarter crack, or separation in the hoof wall, is located on the inside quarter of one of Star Guitar’s hind hooves, said Stall. It extends down from the coronary band, or the top of the foot, which could require a minimum of one to two months to grow out. It is also located in the same area as a 2011 quarter crack that led to a three-month gap in Star Guitar’s schedule from late last March to early July.

“The reason it’s bothering us a little bit is because it’s the exact same area. It’s an area that’s obviously a little weakened,” said Stall. “If he does nothing but walk for four to six weeks, then his loss of fitness would require him to go through the rigors of training to get ready for another race, and we’re not sure we want to put him through that coming up on 8 years old.

“He’s getting ready to turn 8 this coming year, and you don’t want to be standing there in mid-January, have something happen again, and make him miss a breeding season. That’s why we’ve put the retirement option on the table.”

There are means of managing a quarter crack and continuing to compete, such as using a patch on the area and wearing a bar shoe. Stall said that in this case, however, he prefers to just let the hoof grow out. He believes the injury might have been brought out by the racing stress of the horse’s last start, the Louisiana Legends Classic at Evangeline on June 30.

Stall said if Star Guitar were able to resume training in the middle of September, there is a chance he could start in the Gold Cup at Delta Downs, a race the horse won last November. Or, he said Star Guitar could just await the Fair Grounds meet, perhaps racing during the Louisiana Champions Day program in December.

“There’s all kinds of options,” he said. “We just don’t know right now.”

Stall said other factors playing into the retirement conversations include the fact that Star Guitar has achieved the Louisiana-bred record for earnings. He said the horse remains stabled at Louisiana Downs.

“He’s walking and grazing twice a day,” he said. “He’s happy.”

Star Guitar would have been looking for his 11th straight win Saturday. He is an earner of $1,749,862, with 19 of his 22 stakes wins coming in races for Louisiana-breds. He debuted in November 2007.