11/21/2008 12:00AM

Star Guitar takes next step forward

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NEW ORLEANS - Only a year ago, the connections of Star Guitar entertained the possibility of the Louisiana-bred taking on the big dogs in the Louisiana Derby. Then came the cracked cannon bone.

Now, almost a year after his impressive win over statebred company in the Louisiana Juvenile on Champions Day, Star Guitar makes the second start of a comeback in Sunday's ninth race at Fair Grounds, a third-level allowance for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds going six furlongs.

Star Guitar made his first start following nine months on the sidelines Sept. 25 at Louisiana Downs. He stayed a length in back of the pacesetters in the six-furlong race, and couldn't close in the stretch, finishing third, two lengths behind the winner and a nose behind Karakorum Large, who also returns in this race.

"We were happy with his race, though we had wanted him to go 5 1/2 furlongs," said Pam Fitzgerald, an assistant to trainer Al Stall. "He's doing really well. There's no such thing as a good injury, but the horses usually come back at the same level after the cannon bone."

There's no use looking back to what might have been, but the upside for Star Guitar seemed high last fall. He won his career debut by more than six lengths, then returned to win the $100,000 Louisiana Juvenile by 1 1/2 lengths.

"We were going to try him in the prep for the Louisiana Derby," said Fitzgerald. "He's a little better bred than your average Louisiana-bred."

Star Guitar is by the Kentucky sire Quiet American and out of the mare Minit Towinit, who has had two other foals win stakes in Louisiana. While it is too early to tell if Star Guitar will return at the same level he raced last year, his connections are pointing for a return appearance on Louisiana Champions Day, Dec. 13, where he is nominated to both the Sprint and the Classic.

"I think he really wants to go long, but we'll have to see what he tells us in this race," said Fitzgerald.

His main competition Sunday looks to come from Karakorum Large, who is coming into the race off consecutive second-place finishes, and looks to be well placed in this group.

"He showed us a lot of talent as a 2-year-old, but he wasn't been able to put it all together," said trainer Bret Calhoun. "He seems to be a little better than he has been, though. It will be a tough race."