01/04/2013 2:52PM

Fair Grounds: Latest 'Bean' horse off to quick start with Louisiana Futurity win

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Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography
Sunbean (right) wins the male division of the Louisiana Futurity. He is the fifth stakes winner out of the former low-level claimer X Strawdnair.

NEW ORLEANS – Evelyn Benoit said she was cooking a pot of beans when she came up with the name Mean Butterbean for the first foal out of X Strawdnair.

Mean Butterbean was a fast money-maker for Evelyn and Maurice Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, and brothers and sisters produced by the mare – all with “bean” in their names – have continued the family tradition.

The latest is Sunbean, a Brahms colt who scored a half-length victory Monday over Heitai in the Louisiana Futurity for Louisiana-bred colts and geldings. Racing along the inside, Sunbean set a fast pace while being pressed, but he didn’t wilt in the stretch. He ran six furlongs 1:10.68, an exceptional performance for a 2-year-old.

Later in the card, multiple-graded-stakes winner Flashpoint ran the distance in 1:10.56 to win an open optional claiming race in a solid field of older horses.

Sunbean followed Mean Butterbean, Brother Bean, Miss Bean Wah, and Beanwah’smachine as stakes winners produced by X Strawdnair, a former cheap claimer who was voted Louisiana’s broodmare of the year for 2011.

Brother Bean, who briefly held the Fair Grounds track record for 5 1/2 furlongs, won four stakes and earned $434,460 in 23 starts from 2006 to 2009. Miss Bean Wah set a track record for a mile and 70 yards at Evangeline Downs. Good Human Bean, another daughter of X Strawdnair, was stakes-placed.

Sunbean, who is trained by Al Stall Jr., debuted Dec. 8 with a nose loss to Warren’s Rebel in a maiden race. After breaking tardily, Sunbean pressed the pace before drifting out when tiring in the stretch. In the Louisiana Futurity, he showed significant improvement.

Evelyn Benoit said that Sunbean might be the best offspring of X Strawdnair.

“This mother is a phenomenal thing,” Benoit said. “We’re really excited about him, and he’s in Star’s No. 5 stall.”

She was referring to Star Guitar, who was retired last year as the all-time Louisiana-bred money-earner. He’ll be the next stallion bred to X Strawdnair, Benoit said.

She said she has a name in mind for a 2-year-old Quiet American colt out of X Strawdnair. “If he shows he has that talent,” Benoit said, the colt might be called Hot Bean Yea – a play on the word “beignet,” a New Orleans fried dough treat.

“Bean” had to be in there somewhere.

Options for Sittin At the Bar

Trainer Brett Brinkman said he’s leaning toward the Premier Night Starlet at Delta Downs as the next race for Sittin At the Bar, who won the filly division of the Louisiana Futurity on Monday.

Another possibility for her next start is the Rachel Alexandra on Feb. 23 at the Fair Grounds, Brinkman said. “We’ll kind of let her tell us,” he said.

Either race would be her prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks, “if she shows us she can be that kind of filly in open company,” he said.

Sittin At the Bar ran six furlongs in 1:11.46 to win the Futurity by 2 1/4 lengths. She was coming back 23 days after winning the Champions Day Lassie by eight lengths in 1:11.10. She had a more favorable pace scenario in that race, rallying from off a much faster, contested pace.

Before that, Sittin At the Bar ran competitively twice in open stakes company at Delta Downs, finishing third in the Grade 3 Delta Princess and second in the My Trusty Cat.

“Every race we respect her even more,” Brinkman said.

Every Way might try dirt

Every Way, a City Zip filly who won a first-level optional claiming race on turf Monday, might race next on dirt in the Rachel Alexandra, trainer Mike Stidham said.

“She’s worked well on the dirt,” Stidham said.

Every Way defeated maidens on turf at Woodbine in her career debut. In her next two starts, she finished third in the Grade 3 Mazarine on Polytrack at Woodbine and fourth in the La Senorita on turf at Retama Park.

Multiple graded stakes winner Willcox Inn, who hasn’t raced since finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, has worked three times for Stidham at the Fair Grounds. “We’re pointing to the Connally over in Houston [on Jan. 26] for his first race,” he said.

Possible Fair Grounds races for Willcox Inn are the Fair Grounds Handicap on Feb. 23 and Mervin Muniz Memorial on March 30, Stidham said.

Flashpoint back in winner’s circle

Less than a half-length separated the first five horses in the race won by Flashpoint on Monday. The victory was his first since he won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore in July 2011 at Monmouth Park.

Flashpoint was retired because of a torn suspensory after finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland in October 2011. He had been on the Triple Crown trail early in 2011, winning the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park and finishing fourth in the Florida Derby before fading to 14th in the Preakness.

Previously trained by Richard Dutrow and Wesley Ward, Flashpoint joined trainer Steve Asmussen’s stable in August. Flashpoint returned to competition in November, finishing fourth in an optional race at Churchill Downs.

On Monday, Flashpoint rallied along the rail and edged Pass the Dice by a nose for the victory.

“I’ll try to find a little stakes for him,” Asmussen said. “He still needs to move forward.”

Asmussen has another comeback project – Nehro – who hasn’t raced since finishing sixth in the Stephen Foster in June. Nehro, who is coming back from surgery to remove a bone chip from an ankle, worked a half-mile Dec. 28 in 53.20 seconds and another in 53 on Friday.

“Just trying to make it back,” Asmussen said.

Nehro, who has won two of 11 starts, accumulated $976,731 in earnings mainly through second-place finishes in major races – the Louisiana Derby, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Derby in 2011 and Pimlico Special last year.