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Star Guitar redeems himself in Champions Day Classic
Star Guitar’s Louisiana Champions Day Legacy remained intact Saturday at Fair Grounds, where the 5-year-old horse won his fourth Champions Day race, capturing the $150,000 Champions Day Classic by four lengths. But on the female side of the ledger, Superior Storm went down in defeat while attempting to win the $100,000 Ladies for the third year in a row.
Star Guitar won the Champions Day Juvenile in 2007, the Sprint in 2008, and the Classic in 2009, but he came into Saturday’s race off only his second loss in 14 starts against Louisiana-breds, a fourth-place finish in the Gold Cup on Nov. 5 at Delta Downs. Bettors were not put off. They made Star Guitar a 1-5 favorite, and Star Guitar did not let his backers down. Tracking a mild pace skirmish between Snug and Productive Envoy, who set splits of 24.15 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 48.83 to the half, and 1:13.02 for six furlongs, Star Guitar and Robby Albarado went on the attack at the five-sixteenths pole. Star Guitar ranged up three wide, took the lead at the top of the stretch, and easily held clear Snug, who stayed on for second. Eighth At Citypark rallied mildly to finish a distant third. The winner paid $2.40, and was timed in 1:51.12 for 1 1/8 miles.
Al Stall, who trains Star Guitar for owner-breeder Brittlyn Stable, never could find an excuse for the horse’s loss last month, but he was glad to be back at Fair Grounds, where Star Guitar was winning for the seventh time in nine starts.
“He does a lot better at this track where he can stretch his legs,” Stall said.
Superior Storm, meanwhile, could not chase down pace-setting Ladyzarbridge in the $100,000 Ladies, losing for the first time in four Champions Day starts. Superior Storm, a 5-year-old millionaire, raced in third as Ladyzarbridge ($23) set moderate splits of 24.02 seconds, 48.31, and 1:13.34 while pursued by Little Polka Dot, spurting away at the top of the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Little Polka went evenly to finish third, with the winner clocking 1:45.81 for 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Eddie Johnston and co-owned by Johnston and Chuck Zacney, Ladyzarbridge was claimed for $20,000 out of her second career start.
Snakebite Kit stay perfect on turf
Snakebite Kit was a sharp winner of the $100,000 Champions Day Turf, running his Fair Grounds grass-course record to 4 for 4 with a 1 3/4-length score over Kissimmee Kyle.
Snakebite Kit is the rare horse who can lead and finish over the Fair Grounds turf, which generally favors closers. Under Rosie Napravnik for the first time, Snakebite Kit outran Classy Deelites for the early lead in the Turf, but in so doing was forced into a quick 23.74-second opening-quarter-mile. The early pressure, however, did not make a dent in Snakebite Kit’s finish. He disposed of the chasers turning for home, opened a two-length lead at the stretch call, and never was threatened by hard-trying Kissimmee Kyle.
Snakebite Kit was timed in a solid 1:44.13 for 1 1/16 miles on firm turf, and paid $5.60 to win as the favorite. Hallway finished third, while defending champion Desert Wheat was fifth. Eddie Johnston, who trains Snakebite Kit for owner-breeder Steve Hartman, earned his second stakes victory of the afternoon.
Reyina holds on in Lassie
Taking advantage of a racing surface that was helping front-runners along, rail-drawn pacesetting Reyina narrowly held on to win the $100,000 Lassie by a nose. Trained by Tony Richey, who won the $50,000 Starter with Grey Papillon, Reyina was timed in 1:12.23 for six furlongs, and paid $38.60 to win. Sweet Ruston, a 78-1 chance, finished second, with second-choice Tensas Punch third and 6-5 favorite Take Me Home Too eighth. Reyina, a daughter of Louisiana stallion Dr. John, is owned by Danny Ray Butler.
Flashy Wise Cat comes from far back to win Sprint
Trainer Troy Young wished he had gotten a prep race into Flashy Wise Cat for the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint. That didn’t happen. And as the field hit the far turn late Saturday afternoon, Flashy Wise Cat was ninth of 10, more than 11 lengths behind the leader on a racing surface that had carried speed. No prep, no position, no problem, as Flashy Wise Cat unleashed a powerful three-furlong move to win the Sprint for the second year in a row.
Kerwin Clark was aboard the winner for the first time, twice knifing between horses as Flashy Wise Cat passed almost the entire field in the last quarter-mile.
“You always worry about getting through traffic with a horse like him, but Troy had this horse so ready to run,” Clark said. “When we turned for home, I was just looking for a spot to go.”
Flashy Wise Cat didn’t catch pacesetter My Star Runner until about the sixteenth pole, but was moving so well that he still drew clear to win by 3 ¼ lengths. His six-furlong time of 1:10.58 was excellent over a dull strip.
Flashy Wise Cat is a son of Catastrophe for whom Young’s father, Lee, paid big money, $100,000, at a 2006 auction. But 4-year-old Flashy Wise Cat now has earned more than $269,000, and can add substantially to that figure if he gets in more sprint races at Fair Grounds. The winner, who doesn’t like hot weather and hadn’t started since July, paid $11 and was followed home by My Star Runner and Foreign Production.
Su Casa G Casa takes Juvenile
Trainer Bret Calhoun thought Su Casa G Casa might be the speed of the speed in the $100,000 Juvenile. He was wrong about that, but everything else with Su Casa G Casa went right, with the 2-year-old son of During stalking the pace en route to a 2 ¾-length victory.
Toro Bravo pressed the taxing pace of Amenecer de Oro but still held gamely for second, a nose in front of stretch-running Fort Hood. The winner, owned by Thomas Galvin, was timed in 1:11.86 for six furlongs, and paid $5.20 as the favorite.
Cajun Conference sharp after long layoff
Cajun Conference returned from an 11-month layoff and employed new rating tactics while scoring a $20.80 upset in the $100,000 Ladies Sprint. Trained by Eric Heitzmann for Southern Equine Stables, Cajun Conference hadn’t started since a fifth-place finish Jan. 16 in the Happy Ticket Stakes at Fair Grounds, but the one-time front-runner rallied stoutly through the stretch to comfortably run down favored Good Human Bean, who held second over Cherry Forever. The winner, a daughter of Gold Tribute, was timed in 1:12.45 for six furlongs.