Then, in the next race – another remarkable performance – this time by Winchell Thoroughbreds’ War Echo, taking the inaugural running of Fair Grounds’ $100,000 Daily Racing Form Distaff for fillies and mares with a performance that “echoed” her victory in last season’s Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes.
Star Guitar, trained by Al Stall Jr. and ridden by Curt Bourque, won the 19th running of the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic after winning the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint last year and the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile two seasons ago.
Now firmly ensconced as one of the top Louisiana-breds of all time, the 4-year-old son of Quiet American was the odds-on choice of the fans, returning mutuels of $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10 after accomplishing the nine-furlong distance in 1:52.15 and increasing his career earnings to $708,458 with his 11th career victory in 14 lifetime starts. Ide Like a Double finished second, paying $3.20 and $2.20, while 2 1/4-lengths in front of Takin’ the Bullet, who returned $2.80.
Winning jockey Curt Bourque was somewhat stunned by Star Guitar’s 7 1/4-length win – and the fashion in which it was accomplished – immediately after the race.
“It’s just an unbelievable feeling being able to ride a horse like this,” Bourque said. “He’s by far the best horse I’ve ever ridden. He has no idea he’s Louisiana-bred. He’s just a very good horse. Al and his crew have just done an amazing job with him. I’m very grateful to be a part of the team.”
Winning jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard War Echo in the Distaff, was similarly impressed with his filly’s facile 3 1/2-length victory that 1 1/8-mile test, where she toured the distance in 1:52.20.
“She ran a very professional race,” said Bridgmohan of War Echo’s remarkable run. “We sat behind the speed, and she got a little headstrong on me when we went down the backstretch but when I asked her – she was just there for me. Believe me, the sky’s the limit for this filly.”
Conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, combining with Bridgmohan for their second stakes win of the day, War Echo paid $3.20, $2.20 and $2.10, and increased her lifetime earnings to $258,537 with her fourth victory from eight career starts.
Unforgotten was easily second best in the Distaff, paying $2.40 and $2.10 while 9 3/4-lengths in front of No Use Denying, who paid $2.40.
Another appetizing Louisiana Champions Day garnish was added to that portion of the afternoon restricted to accredited Louisiana-breds when Desert Wheat – owned by Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable and Jerry D. Lee and conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott – took down winning honors in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, a race he previously won in 2006, then finished fourth in the 2007 renewal, and then was runner-up by a neck in last year’s edition.
Desert Wheat, ridden by Corey Lanerie, paid mutuels of $3.80, $2.60 and $2.40 while best by four lengths with a final time of 1:49.45. The 8-year-old has now posted 11 victories from 48 starts.
Nowandforevermore finished second in the Turf, paying $4.40 and $3.40, with High Toned running third, a length and a quarter farther back while returning $5.80.
In the 59th running of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes – the first stakes of the afternoon run as the fourth race – Winmore LLC’s Cool Bullet was always among the leaders and withstood a late run by Ackerley Brothers Farm’s Big Texas Daddy to win by a head. The winner, trained by Steve Margolis and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., paid $14.80 straight and increased his career earnings to $58,800 with his second victory in four lifetime starts. The son of Preakness winner Red Bullet toured the six furlongs in 1:10.85.
In the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes, Mimicry Partnership’s Grand Traverse, trained by Tim Glyshaw, rallied in the final furlong under jockey Victor Lebron to win by two lengths, covering the about five and a half furlongs over the “yielding” Stall-Wilson turf course in 1:05.81. The winner paid $38 and increased his career earnings to $282,020 with his ninth win in 34 lifetime starts.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Seven Seventythree, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, proved much the best in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint, arriving home eight lengths clear of her nearest rival while covering the three-quarter mile distance in 1:11.53. She paid $9.20 to win and increased her career earnings to $301,300 with her sixth win from 13 trips to the post.
In the $60,000 Esplanade Stakes, Destiny Oak’ She’s Our Annie proved no disappointment as the 11-10 choice of the fans, taking command shortly after the break and winning by two and a half lengths while not fully extended by visiting jockey Jon Court, son-in-law of Oaklawn-based trainer Jinks Fires. She paid $4.20 to win and swelled her lifetime earnings to $142,080 with her fifth win from six starts.
Saturday’s 50th renewal of the $60,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes for juvenile fillies was won by Windmill Manor Farm’s My Jen, trained by Eddie Kenneally and ridden by Jamie Theriot. The daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus paid $13.40, $6.40 and $4.40, remains an undefeated three-for-three with earnings of $81,000 and got the six furlongs in 1:11.55 while winning by a nose.
Finally, in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint which closed out the stakes portion of Santa Super Saturday, Lee Young Farm’s Flashy Wise Cat, trained by Troy Young and ridden by Shane Sellers, justified his 11-10 favoritism with a 4 1/2-length win, paying $4.20 straight while getting the six furlongs in 1:09.86. Flashy Wise Cat, winning for the fifth time in nine lifetime starts, upped his career earnings to $157,740.