half the Champ’s age – aided by his youth when facing the credentialed
“Cajun” veteran – but is he up to this challenge? Can the improving
Populist Politics, owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, give the reigning Louisiana-bred champ
Star Guitar, hero of state-bred racing here who competes in the Brittlyn silks of Evelyn Benoit, a run for his money on
Louisiana Champions Day this Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots?
Guests at Fair Grounds and fans of the
oval’s simulcast signal will find out Saturday when last year’s
Louisiana Futurity winner Populist Politics meets Star Guitar – hero of
the last two Louisiana Champions Day Classics
– in this year’s 20th renewal of the $150,000 Classic?
Louisiana Champions Day Classic,
for accredited Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds and up, has always been the
main event for Louisiana-breds at Fair Grounds, but Champions Day also
showcases five other six-figure stakes
for Thoroughbreds as well as an additional three for American Quarter
Horses accredited in the
Saturday’s Classic is the race that could easily live up to its name.
In addition to his last two Classic wins, Star Guitar won
the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint in 2008 and the $100,000
Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile the year before that. He’s already the
only horse to have won four Champions Day races and will be favored to
win his unprecedented fifth later this week.
But is he a cinch?
Star Guitar’s trainer
Al Stall, Jr., while
grateful for his Thanksgiving Day quartet of victories on Fair Grounds’
opening day this season, offered one caveat when reflecting on his
banner day – recognizing that Populist Politics also
captured Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes by 6 1/2-lengths that
way Populist Politics ran yesterday,” Stall said on Black Friday
morning, “the Classic may turn out to be a real ‘Rumble in the Jungle.’”
during training hours on Sunday of this week Stall radiated confidence
in his 6-year-old son of Quiet American, who is already second
on the list of all-time Louisiana-bred money earners.
seems to be on track for us,” Stall said. “(Star Guitar) is undefeated
this year, and he worked a fine five-eighths the other day
(a bullet 1:00.80 on Nov. 28.). But Populist Politics is a nice looking
horse, too. The Classic has been kind of a ‘ho-hum’ affair for Star
Guitar the last two years (which he won by a total of almost 12
lengths.) Maybe with Populist Politics in there, we’ll
bring a little more excitement to it on Saturday.”
Over at the barn adjacent to Stall’s Sunday morning, nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion
Tom Amoss, conditioner of
Populist Politics and Stall’s classmate at Newman High School and
roommate during their years at LSU, was downplaying his horse’s chances
as the challenger in Saturday’s Classic.
Guitar is the champ,” Amoss said, “but Populist Politics had a very
good work yesterday (a bullet half-mile in 47.80 Dec. 3.) Also, I
can tell you my horse is a much better horse now than he was when he
raced here last spring because he’s a much more mature horse mentally
than he was at that time. But is his best effort good enough to match up
with that old veteran over there? I don’t really
know that it is, but it will be fun to see.”
APPRENTICE JOCKEY C. J. MCMAHON RIDES FOUR WINNERS SATURDAY
Teenage apprentice jockey
C. J. McMahon, who made the first two visits of his young
career to the Fair Grounds’ winner’s circle during the local oval’s
Thanksgiving Day Opening Day program, earned some nationally-televised
recognition Saturday during
HRTV’s telecast of Fair Grounds’ initial foray as the host of
Claiming Crown Day.
born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the son of a Quarter Horse rider,
enjoyed a four-win afternoon on Claiming Crown Day, highlighted
by his win on Atthebuzzer, owned and trained by
Jackie Thacker, in the $50,000 Claiming Crown Express. That Arkansas-bred paid
$95.40 to win – the second highest straight price recorded during the 2011-2012 meeting at Fair Grounds.
The young rising star also won the last three races of the day, respectively, aboard Murphy, Levy, and Young’s
Sunrise Star for trainer Robert Young, Sure Profit Racing Stable’s
Redhotrush for conditioner Earl Angelle as well as the finale astride Danny Ray Butler’s Laflo for trainer