12/05/2012 4:29PM

Fair Grounds: Louisiana Champions Day goes on without Star Guitar

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Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.
Star Guitar, with Corey Lanerie riding, wins his third Louisiana Champions Day Classic last year.

It will be the first time since 2006 that a Louisiana Champions Day will be run without Star Guitar, but the show will go on indeed Saturday in New Orleans when the annual series for statebreds is renewed at Fair Grounds.

Star Guitar, retired last summer with a remarkable 24-for-30 lifetime record and earnings of nearly $1.75 million, has been a major attraction in recent years on Louisiana Champions Day. The Brittlynn Stable color-bearer won the Juvenile in 2007 at age 2, the Sprint at 3, and the Classic at 4, 5, and 6. (In celebration, he will be paraded in the paddock and in front of the grandstand before this year’s Classic.)

His absence leaves the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic a more wide-open event than it has been in years, with Populist Politics, Lee’s Spirit, and Heavy On Themister the probable favorites in a field of 11.

Entries for the entire 13-race Saturday card (post time 12:15 p.m. Central) were drawn Wednesday. From a Thoroughbred perspective, there are seven main events, all worth $100,000 (except the Classic). There also is a $50,000 starter handicap and three Quarter Horse events, all for $100,000. Here is a quick rundown:

◗ Classic (11th race, post 5:18): Rosie Napravnik, who once again leads the Fair Grounds jockey standings, will be aboard Heavy On Themister for the first time. The 4-year-old gelding ran third at Delta Downs as the front-running 2-1 second choice in his last race, the Oct. 27 Gold Cup Stakes, a race won by Lee’s Spirit at 14-1, with Populist Politics second as the 6-5 favorite.

For their Saturday rematch, Populist Politics (Jimmy Graham) was assigned post 3, Heavy On Themister got post 5, and Lee’s Spirit (John Jacinto) post 8.

◗ Ladies Sprint (12th): Speedacious, 6 for 8 at Fair Grounds and a career earner of more than $570,000, looks like a deserving odds-on choice in a field of nine. Miguel Mena will be aboard from post 7.

◗ Juvenile (9th): This six-furlong race sports a very competitive look among the nine 2-year-olds, with maybe the Steve Asmussen-trained Westernator coming a slight favorite. Chief threats: Nubin Ridge, Hero Force, Heitai, and Palmy Bay.

◗ Sprint (8th): Amanacer de Oro (post 1, Richard Eramia) will go for his third straight victory in this statebred niche after earning respective Beyer Speed Figures of 94 and 96 in easily winning in similar spots at Evangeline Downs in June and Louisiana Downs in August. Chief Jay, Su Casa G Casa, and Joyce’s Rebel loom as mild upsetters among the nine.

◗ Lassie (7th): Sittin At the Bar (post 3, Mark Guidry) was good enough to run third in the rich Delta Princess under open conditions, which is probably enough to make her a solid favorite over eight opponents in this six-furlong race.

◗ Turf (5th): Four of the nine tentatively set to go in this 1 1/16-mile race are cross-entered in later races on the card, most notably Lee’s Spirit, who was assigned post 1 here. Regardless, Kissimmee Kyle and String King figure to make this a struggle for the rest.

◗ Ladies (4th): The smallest field (seven, including a stable entry) of the Thoroughbred races comes first, with the steady Little Ms Protocol (post 5, Diego Saenz) a likely choice over the coupled duo of Ladyzarbridge and Clever Thirteen.

The first 5,000 customers Saturday will receive a free Star Guitar poster, and all college students in attendance will be eligible to win one of two $1,000 scholarships provided by the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association.