02/23/2013 3:44PM

Fair Grounds: Sunbean, scratched from Risen Star, clearly best against statebreds in Gentilly

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Sunbean cruises to victory in the Gentilly under a confident ride by Colby Hernandez.

NEW ORLEANS – Scratched from the Risen Star, Sunbean dominated fellow 3-year-old Louisiana-breds in a 4 3/4-length romp in the Gentilly Stakes on Saturday at the Fair Grounds.

Ridden by Colby Hernandez for trainer Al Stall Jr. and Maurice and Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, Sunbean rated in mid-pack off a fast pace set by Skip the Pinot, who ran the first half-mile while pressed by Heitai in 46.76 seconds. In the stretch, Sunbean swept around rivals and pulled away.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

He ran the mile and 70 yards on a good track in 1:42.76 and paid $3.80.  The race was written for turf but switched to dirt because of wet conditions

“He rated perfectly fine,” Hernandez said. “I knew there was quite a bit of speed when they broke. I knew they were ripping right along.”

Stall said: “He’s a nice animal. That was a great ride. I told him to ride him with confidence, and he sure did.”

Hopeful Notion finished second, 5 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Nubin Ridge in a field of eight.

Sunbean has won three consecutive races, including two stakes, since losing a maiden race by a nose in his debut. He was on the also-eligible list for the Risen Star. Because all of his earnings came against Louisiana-breds, 14 other entrants with earnings in open races were preferred for the body of the Risen Star.

Because of scratches, Sunbean could have drawn into the Risen Star, but Stall opted not to run him from the farthest outside post position. Stall also scratched Departing, who drew post 14.

Concerning what might be next for Sunbean, Stall said: “I hope there’s not 15 in the Louisiana Derby.”