08/10/2011 12:18PM

Louisiana Downs: Crystal Moment may be ready to take on Star Guitar


Star Guitar has been dominant in the handicap division at Evangeline Downs in recent seasons, compiling a perfect 5-for-5 record dating back to 2009. So formidable is his reputation that in winning his third Louisiana Showcase Classic last month, only four rivals took on the 6-year-old two-time reigning champion Louisiana-bred. But when he goes for his third consecutive Evangeline Mile Handicap against open company on Saturday night, Star Guitar will have to contend with a new kid on the block, Crystal Moment.

A 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor out of the Nureyev mare Crystal Music, Crystal Moment brought a hefty $1.2 million as a yearling at the 2008 Keeneland September sale. Campaigned by WinStar Farm and trained by Bill Mott and then Richard Budge, Crystal Moment remained a maiden through his first five starts while racing on turf, dirt, and synthetic. Following a private purchase by current owner Mary Grum, Cecil Borel took over the training of Crystal Moment in the fall of 2010 and the rest, as they say, is history.

After a 12-length maiden score at Fair Grounds in late December in his first start for Borel, Crystal Moment was given most of the next six months off. Returning to action in early June at Churchill Downs, he made short work of his conditions, winning back-to-back allowances while sprinting on the turf. He then traveled with to Borel’s late summer base of Louisiana Downs where he has been training steadily for his stakes debut.

The Borel camp has been their usual low key selves since arriving from Kentucky, winning with the first two starters they sent out without much fanfare. A simple confirmation by Borel’s wife Debbie that Crystal Moment would start in the Mile was all the commentary that a phone call earlier this week produced.

While his connections may be keeping a low profile, Crystal Moment has been somewhat conspicuous in the mornings. He has attracted attention with his training regime, which includes a string of seven-furlong and mile moves in recent weeks.

Borel put the finishing touches on Crystal Moment’s preparation for the Mile last Sunday with a snappy three furlong blowout in 34.40 seconds, indicating the strapping bay has not lost any of his sharpness. It was the fastest of 34 moves at the distance.

While Crystal Moment has tried a variety of surfaces, it can be argued he might be best over conventional dirt. In addition to his convincing maiden score, he narrowly missed in maiden special weight company over the Churchill main track last November in his only other dirt attempt. That race produced an 86 Beyer Speed Figure, the same number he earned in each of his two recent allowance scores. The winner of that same maiden race, Equestrio, as well as third-place finisher Candyman both came back to win their next starts.

Crystal Moment has been assigned 114 pounds for the Mile, 10 pounds less than Star Guitar. That spread could go a long way toward making up for the seasoning advantage Star Guitar holds over his younger rival.