Last winter it was Brittlyn Stable’s Star Guitar who brought national recognition to Louisiana’s Thoroughbred breeding program by becoming the Pelican State’s all-time leading money earner. Can Brittlyn Stable’s Sunbean begin to pick up the bit as his potential replacement by running well in New Orleans’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots?
The fluid field for the Risen Star, although the race was drawn Monday, will of necessity still suffer some changes given its overflow status, its cross-entered horses and the non-committal comments of several of the horsemen involved.
Sunbean – as the present pride and joy of Brittlyn owner Evelyn Benoit – is a case in point given the liquidity of his status in Saturday’s $400,000 prep race for the 100th running of the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby March 30.
Last Sunday, albeit before the Risen Star post position draw, Ms. Benoit shared some feelings about why she wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star Stakes.
“He’s all about Louisiana,” she said of Sunbean, one day after her sophomore son of Brahms breezed a half-mile in 48.40. “He’s a joy, a big joy, to have in my barn. I want to pull off something for our sport that will bring some new people into the Louisiana breeding program, and also bring back some of the people who have left it in the last few years.
“When Sunbean’s out there, he doesn’t look like he’s from Louisiana,” Ms. Benoit said. “When I watched his breeze (Feb. 16), it was like he was just gliding out there. He does it so easy. The jock came back and told me all you have to do is tap him and he’ll go just as fast as you want him to go. He’s very talented, and with that much speed he can be very dangerous.”
Since Sunbean was cross-entered in Saturday’s $60,000 Gentilly Stakes at Fair Grounds – a grass race restricted to Louisiana-bred sophomores slated at about one-mile over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, and since Sunbean would leave from the extreme outside post if he were to run in the Risen Star, Ms. Benoit updated her thoughts on Wednesday.
“The reason I wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star was because I loved Risen Star (the horse) so much and (Risen Star co-owner) Louie Roussel has always been such a good friend of mine,” she said Wednesday morning. “But all my life, whenever things I’ve wanted haven’t quite worked out the way I wanted, they’ve always turned around and become a blessing for me sometime later down the line. You just never know.
“I probably would think (trainer) Al (Stall Jr.) would prefer to run Sunbean in the Gentilly,” she said. “One of the reasons I wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star was because the race was right outside our door, but so is the Gentilly. I’m just happy the horse is not going to be sitting in the barn on such a big day. If he runs well in the Gentilly, maybe I can bring him back and run him in the Louisiana Derby.”
Stall said Wednesday morning: “We don’t want to run two horses from the 13- and 14-holes. I don’t know what to do with Departing, as far as if there’s one scratch or two. We’ll just ride things out. We’re not going to train the horses any different…We’ll talk about running Saturday morning, I guess.”
DOGWOOD’S COT CAMPBELL PLEASED PALACE MALICE LIKELY TO SEE SHORTER FIELD
Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell was pleased that Dogwood’s Palace Malice might face less than a full gate in Saturday’s still-liquid Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford.
“I’d rather not have all the traffic problems (Palace Malice) might have with a field full, so for us, the fewer horses we face the better,” Campbell said Wednesday, speaking over the phone from Aiken, South Carolina. “Of course, a lot of times you can end up with traffic problems in a five-horse field. Sometimes it works out that way, as well. But we’re all looking forward to coming down there Friday. I look forward to seeing all my friends at Fair Grounds and I always look forward to coming back to New Orleans.”
$100,000-GUARANTEED PICK FOUR SATURDAY
A special $100,000-Guaranteed Pick Four will be offered Saturday on races 8-11, in addition to the usual TwinSpires.com Early Pick Four beginning in Race 2 and the Late Pick Four on the final four races. The $100,000-Guaranteed Pick Four will start with the Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) at 3:55 p.m. CST and will also include the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies, the Risen Star and a deep 10-horse maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies.
EARLY FIRST POST SATURDAY/$5 GA
First post for Saturday’s expanded 13-race Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford program is a half-hour earlier than usual, at 12:30 p.m. CST. Grandstand General Admission is $5.