07/01/2010 11:00PM

Superior Storm aims at a million


OPELOUSAS, La. - Superior Storm may finally be ready to join an elite club. A victory in Saturday night's $100,000 Louisiana Showcase Distaff at Evangeline Downs would elevate the 5-year-old mare to millionaire status. The Distaff is one of 10 divisional stakes for Louisiana-breds that make up Showcase Night. A pair of $30,000 maiden special weight races for Louisiana-breds bookend the 12-race card, which gets under way at 5:40 p.m. Central.

Trainer Rick Jackson said reaching $1 million in earnings, a milestone that few Louisiana-breds have achieved, was a goal for Superior Storm.

"We thought we had a good chance to do it on Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs in May, but she caught a virus that was going around," he said. "Of all the horses to catch it in the barn, it just happened to be our best."

Superior Storm has not started since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn in early March. Jackson was going to use the Azeri as a prep for a return engagement in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in early April, where she would have faced Zenyatta. Superior Storm finished second to Seventh Street in the 2009 edition of the Apple Blossom.

"She bruised a foot in the Azeri," he said. "We gave her some time and she came back and was doing so good before she got sick. I've had to do a little bit more with regard to her training to get her back ready, but she has responded. She seems to be doing very well."

Unbeaten when facing statebreds and a winner of 12 stakes, Superior Storm will be prohibitively favored when she takes on seven rivals in the Distaff, which is the eighth race on the program. Pat Valenzuela will handle the riding duties.

Star Guitar returns in Classic

Louisiana's other Thoroughbred celebrity, Star Guitar, will also return to action on the Showcase program. A 5-year-old son of Quiet American, he has banked more than $850,000 and was recently named the 2009 Louisiana-bred horse of the year. Star Guitar will take on nine opponents in the Showcase Classic.

Star Guitar has been on the shelf since a fourth-place performance in the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park on April 24.

"He runs well fresh, but more importantly he runs well against Louisiana-breds," said trainer Al Stall Jr. from Kentucky earlier this week. "We've had him at Louisiana Downs since New Orleans. He really did not handle the track all that well at Lone Star. It had rained the night before and speed was really holding. We think he will run a good one Saturday."

Regular rider Curt Bourque will once again be on board Star Guitar who, like Superior Storm, is expected to be odds-on.