03/30/2012 11:55AM

Fair Grounds: Star Guitar goes for record in Costa Rising Stakes

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Louis Hodges Jr.
Star Guitar will go for the all-time Louisiana-bred earnings record in Sunday's Costa Rising Stakes.

There’s been a lot of talk about sports records and history this weekend in New Orleans, what with the Final Four coming to town and the 99th Louisiana Derby set for closing day at Fair Grounds. But for Evelyn Benoit, the most important event on the sports calendar is the $90,000 Costa Rising Stakes, which will be run a little more than an hour after the Louisiana Derby as the 12th of 14 Sunday races.

Benoit will be watching intently as her homebred Star Guitar goes postward as the heavy favorite in the Costa Rising in seeking to become the all-time leading earner among Louisiana-bred horses. The purse for the Costa Rising was enhanced by $30,000 by a new sponsor, the Southern Oaks Plantation of Bobby Asaro, in something of a publicity ploy that will enable Star Guitar to pass Happy Ticket atop the earnings list with a victory. To date, Star Guitar has earned $1,635,862, or $52,976 less than what Happy Ticket made.

“I’d give all the wins away from any of those horses I have running this weekend for a win with Star Guitar on closing day,” said Benoit, a New Orleans resident whose Brittlyn Stable was scheduled to have six other horses in action over these final three days of the four-month Fair Grounds meet.

Star Guitar, winner in 22 of 28 career starts, was assigned the outside post in a field of 10 entered in the Costa Rising, a 1 1/16-mile race run around two turns. Corey Lanerie, who has ridden the 7-year-old horse in 6 of his last 7 races, will be back aboard Sunday. Star Guitar, trained by Al Stall Jr., enters with an eight-race win streak, and it sure seems as if it will take more than a bad post to have it snapped.

Populist Politics and Get In Da House are the logical spoilers. Post time is 5:58 p.m. Central.

Bayou St. John: ‘Kyle’ cuts back

The Costa Rising is directly followed by the $60,000 Bayou St. John, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint in which Stall also has a prime contender in the defending champion, Kissimmee Kyle. Robby Albarado has the mount on Kissimmee Kyle, who was assigned post 10 in a field of 13 older horses.

Although Kissimmee Kyle is winless in four starts at this meet, all were at a mile or longer and the turnback in distance combined with an abundance of early speed opposing him could result in the 6-year-old gelding closing fastest of all.

Other top contenders in a well-matched race include Toro Bravo, Su Casa G Casa, Amanacer de Oro, and Southern Dude.

Look At the Time gets bigger test

One other Louisiana-bred stakes is carded for earlier in the day, the $75,000 Crescent City Derby. Look At the Time, unbeaten in three career starts for Wes Hawley, is a lukewarm morning-line favorite when facing his toughest test to date.

Eleven 3-year-olds are entered in the Crescent City Derby, which goes at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Among the handful of plausible contenders are Event Center, who earned a field-high Beyer Speed Figure of 86 in a recent maiden triumph, and Beanwah’smachine, a Brittlyn/Stall runner who has collected four wins while being favored in all five career starts.