12/07/2011 4:12PM

Fair Grounds: Star Guitar heads Stall's Champions Day brigade

Lynn Roberts
Star Guitar, with Robby Albarado riding, wins the 2010 Louisiana Champions Day Classic.

No trainer has started the 2011-2012 Fair Grounds meet hotter than New Orleans native Al Stall, whose blistering early-season pace already had produced eight winners from 19 runners going into Wednesday’s action. And if things go right for Stall, his fast pace should hold up through Saturday, when his stable is in all kinds of action during the Louisiana Champions Day program.

The Champions Day races, headed by the $150,000 Classic, were assembled Wednesday, and, as expected, the Stall-trained Star Guitar sits atop the Classic field. Seven were entered in that 1 1/8-mile race, but another Stall horse, Kissimmee Kyle, was cross-entered in the $100,000 Turf, and seems likely to stick to a race that does not include his stablemate, Star Guitar.

A winner in 20 of his 26 career starts, and 8 for 10 at Fair Grounds, Star Guitar has won six starts in a row dating back to the 2010 Champs Day Classic. At age 6, he appears to be going about as well as he ever has, which is a good thing, because a new rival has emerged on the scene.

Populist Politics, trained by Stall’s childhood friend, Tom Amoss, ran big to finish third in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs over the summer, and after a somewhat flatter performance in the Oklahoma Derby, he signaled his readiness for the Champs Day Classic by thrashing nine rivals in the off-the-turf Mr. Sulu Stakes on opening day of the Fair Grounds meet. As a 3-year-old, Populist Politics get a five-pound weight break from his older rival in Saturday’s race. Populist Politics and James Graham landed post 4, while Star Guitar and Corey Lanerie drew 6, but with a long run to the first of two turns, post position should not play a major role.

Stall has horses entered in three more of Saturday’s statebred-restricted stakes, and might be live in all of them. Kissimmee Kyle will be among the favorites in the $100,000 Turf, and Stall might have the chalk for both the $100,000 Lassie and Juvenile. Stall has two horses for the Lassie, but Sunday’s Child should attract more betting dollars than Shezacrazylilsis. And in the Juvenile, Beanwah’smachine is going to take all kinds of beating based on his sharp opening-day allowance victory here.

The Champions Day card begins with three Quarter Horse races. Also in the stakes sequence are the $50,000 starter, the $100,000 Ladies, the $100,000 Ladies Sprint, and the $100,000 Sprint.