Saturday, December 12, 2009

Heiligbrodts to Enjoy La. Champions Day, plus Evelyn Benoit on Star Guitar and Tab Benoit

NEW ORLEANS (Friday, December 11, 2009) – Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt – last season’s Fair Grounds owner champions – were on their way from their home in Houston, Texas, to New Orleans when reached by cell phone en route Friday morning and will be in attendance at Fair Grounds for Louisiana Champions Day on Saturday.

“It’s about a four-hour drive, so we expect we’ll be at the races today as well as for Champions Day tomorrow,” said Bill Heiligbrodt Friday. “I think we’ve been to every Champions Day since they started having them. Let me put it this way—if they didn’t have Louisiana racing we wouldn’t be in racing at all. We’ve been the leading owners at Delta Downs and Louisiana Downs as well as Fair Grounds last season, and we have three stallions standing in Louisiana, but more than that, we live for the Fair Grounds meet. We have a lot of fun just being over there with you because everyone over there always treats us so well.”

The Heiligbrodts also enjoy naming their horses, and a quick overview of how the horses they have running Saturday got their names produced brief explanations from both driver and passenger.

Hisse, 6-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies: “You know how when you’re growing up and someone throws a tantrum they call it a ‘Hisse Fit’?” Corrine Heiligbrodt said. “That’s how she got her name because she can be a handful.”

Heavenville, 20-1 for Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile: “He’s out of the mare Seeking Heaven,” Corrine said. “She was as fast as the wind, and if he wins it would be something sent from Heaven.”

Local, 5-1 in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie: “She’s a homebred,” Bill said. “That’s it. She’s local.”

Snug and Hallway, the 5-1 entry in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf: “Snug because we liked the name and it seemed to go with the stallion Swamp,” Bill said. “Hallway – because he’s by the stallion Graeme Hall – and also because the name seemed to fit with the grandsire Runaway Groom.”

Seven Seventythree, 5-1 in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint: “When we bought her, she was already named,” said Bill. “We heard that she was named for someone who was born in the seventh month of 1973, but we don’t really know if that’s true. Anyway, we like the name, too.”

Takin’ The Bullet, 6-1 in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic: “He’s by Red Bullet,” said Bill. “Naturally, we’d like to have another one as good as Red Bullet.”

Hear No Angel, 12-1 in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint: “Well, the sire is Eavesdropper and the dam is Strawberry Angel, so that name seemed to fit very well with both of them,” Corrine said.

“You know, most of our horses tomorrow have been away from racing for awhile,” added Corrine, “so we don’t know how well they will do. Nevertheless, because it’s Champions Day, we will enjoy watching all of them run and enjoy being back at Fair Grounds.”

Evelyn Benoit – One More Enthusiastic Supporter of Louisiana Champions Day

To say that Louisiana owner Evelyn Benoit, who shares ownership of Brittlyn Stable with her husband Maurice, is passionate about her horses would be a gross understatement. As the many people who know her are aware, she owns Star Guitar, 3-5 morning line choice in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, and also owns Miss Bean Wah, the 5-1 second choice in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies.

“I haven’t slept or eaten in days, anticipating a big performance from Star Guitar,” said Evelyn Friday morning. “Saturday, Star Guitar is in a light field, so hopefully he won’t be kept so wide, or get left at the gate.

“I’ve been a horse owner for 30 years, but I’ve never had one like him before,” she added. “He’s super pleasant to be around. He’s like a dream. Hopefully, he’ll put on a show tomorrow like he did that time at Shreveport ($100,000 Louisiana Turf Cup last Aug. 1) when he got left at the gate and still won by something like eight lengths, or in that race at Churchill (Grade III Alysheba May 1) when he had a bruise on his foot but still ran so well. That race let us know just how good he was, so if he wins tomorrow, we hope he can go on and have a great 5-year-old season. There’s nothing like having a great 5- or 6-year-old in the barn.”

Did Mrs. Benoit think Miss Bean Wah would run well in the Ladies?

“I’m praying for an upset in that race,” said Mrs. Benoit. “You know, she looks enough like Star Guitar to be his sister, but they are no relation. If she were to run well tomorrow – that would really show Louisiana racing at its finest.”

The origins of Miss Bean Wah’s name are not very surprising.

“Whenever the jocks came around looking to work one of our horses, they would all address me as ‘Miss Bean Wah,’ so that seemed like an obvious name for one of my horses,” Mrs. Benoit said.

“As for Star Guitar, he was named for my son Tab (winner of the B. B. King Entertainer of the Year Award and a musician whose band “Voice of the Wetlands” is a well-known socially conscious representative of the attempt to save Louisiana’s coastline),” said Mrs. Benoit. “Star Guitar never gives up, and neither does my son. Star Guitar’s mother died at birth and he was raised by a nursemare, and my son will never give up on the quest to save Louisiana’s coastline. Louisiana people – and New Orleans people – have always been survivors. We never give up. A lot of people say the Louisiana coastline can’t be saved, but it can be. And we will save it.”

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