Home of the Louisiana Derby

Thursday Notes: Star Guitar Owner Benoit Looking Forward to Potentially Historic Weekend

By Graham Ross, Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, March 29, 2012) – Yes, the 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby – showcase event of the New Orleans racing season meeting – will be run this Sunday as one of seven stakes slated for Closing Day of Fair Grounds’ current season, and yes, the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks for sophomore fillies will be one of four feminine stakes races offered at the Crescent City oval on Saturday.

But even with seven horses racing in her Brittlyn Stables’ silks over the last three days of local meeting, owner Evelyn Benoit has one big priority on her mind.

“I’d give all the wins away from any of those other horses I have running this weekend for a win with Star Guitar on closing day,” Ms. Benoit said.

Let it be known that additional sponsorship has been acquired for Star Guitar’s upcoming race, that the purse for the restricted Louisiana-bred stakes has been upped from $60,000 to $90,000 andthat its name has been changed to the Southern Oaks Plantation Costa Rising Stakes.

But let it also be known that with a win in this race Sunday, Star Guitar would become the all-time leading Louisiana-bred money earner.

“This blessed opportunity is something no owner could ever dream of,” said Benoit Thursday, one day before the start of Fair Grounds’ 34-race, three-day marathon weekend. “If he runs the way he looks right now, I can’t see (the win) not happening.

“I hope it works out,” she added. “I hope he (Star Guitar) makes the State of Louisiana shine again. I was out of town recently, and all anyone wanted to talk about when they found out I was from Louisiana was about the New Orleans Saints and all the bad publicity they’ve been getting lately. I think it’s time we had something positive happen in Louisiana and that’s all ‘Star’ has ever given us.

“You have to have the most earnings for people to tell you your horse is the best,” she said, “but to me ‘Star’ is already perfection. I’ve had him for seven years now, and he’s never even had a cough.”

LOOKING AT BRITTLYN STABLES OTHER WEEKEND STAKES STARTERS – Four of the last seven fillies to win the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks on the day before the Kentucky Derby, but also scheduled Saturday at the local oval is the seventh running of the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks restricted to accredited Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Brittlyn Stables owns two of them – the Al Stall Jr.-trained Sunday’s Child as well as the Ron Faucheux-conditioned Bleu Darling.

“That’s going to be a tough call,” said Benoit. “They are both doing so well right now. Sunday’s Child had so much trouble in her last start and she still won, and I’ve always liked the grass to dirt angle.  I own Bleu Darling along with my son (Tyson Benoit). He’s wanted to own for quite a while now, and this is his first one. We’ll have to see if she (Bleu Darling) can stretch out.”

On Sunday, of course the Louisiana Derby is the showcase, but in addition to Star Guitar’s run in the $90,000 Southern Oaks Plantation Costa Rising Stakes, Brittlyn Stable will have Gantry entered in the $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at six furlongs.

“I’m so nervous about that one,” Benoit said. “That’s like ‘heart-attack city’ right there. He’s won both of his last two stakes races (the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap and the $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial) by a nose. I’m going to have to ask the jockey to give us a little bit more of a win margin than that.”

Also on Louisiana Derby Day, the Brittlyn Stable silks will be worn by Beanwah’smachine in the $75,000 CrescentCity Derby, a race also restricted to accredited Louisiana-bred sophomores.

“He was undefeated in four starts until that last race at Delta,” said Benoit. “He just didn’t like that surface over there. Everyone thought it was the sloppy track that he didn’t like, but I’m familiar with the last three generations of that family and they all love the mud. It wasn’t the mud that beat him. He just didn’t like Delta.”

Brittlyn Stables also has Miss Peenyata running in Friday’s second race and Beanevelent Fun in that evening’s 14th on the unprecedented 18-race program that has attracted a total of 214 horses.

“I have high hopes for Miss Peenyata,” Benoit said. “I think she’s going to be a good one for us. Her mother is by Empire Maker, and he won the Belmont Stakes.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO FRIDAY’S UNPRECEDENTED 18-RACE PROGRAM – Friday’s first race will go off at the regular 12:40 p.m. post time with the ninth race scheduled for 4:50 p.m.

There will be a one-hour break between Race 9 and Race 10 with an additional preview show over the video monitors to preview races 10-18 as part of the sixth and last Starlight Racing program of Fair Grounds’ 2011-2012 winter race meeting.

Post time for the 10th race is 5:50 p.m.

There will be no grandstand admission fee until 3:30 p.m., at which time Fair Grounds will begin charging the $5 Grandstand and $10 Clubhouse/Miller Lite Beer Garden admission fees for Starlight Racing.