Brittlyn Stable Inc's Minit to Stardom, the 20-1 upset winner of the Honorable Miss (G2) in July at Saratoga, headlines a star-studded Louisiana Champions Day on Saturday, December 14 at Fair Grounds Racecourse. With an early first post of noon CT, the 13-race program will feature ten Louisiana-bred stakes – seven for Thoroughbreds and three for Quarter Horses. Total purse money well in excess of $1 million will distributed on the day.
“Going to Saratoga and winning that race (the Honorable Miss) was a lifelong dream,” said Minit to Stardom's owner Evelyn Benoit of Brittlyn Stables. “I could not have asked for more. To show up with a homebred from here in Louisiana and face that competition and walk away with a win, it was the biggest dream come true.”
“It was me and my husband's (the late Maurice) dream,” she continued. “The greatest high you could ever have. As a breeder in Louisiana for so many years, and having owned the stallion Star Guitar and praying that he could prove that he was a world class stallion and getting his opportunity to prove it with Minit to Stardom and having her win that race on what happened to be my birthday, you couldn't have written it up any better.”
Installed as the 8-5 favorite in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes by Fair Grounds morning line maker Mike Diliberto, Minit to Stardom will attempt to turn the tables on last year's winner Ours to Run, who posted a dominant five-length win in the slop for trainer Larry Jones and Colonel Thoroughbreds LLC. The Ladies Sprint will be run at six furlongs over the main track and is carded as race seven of the Champions Day card.
Benoit's Brittlyn Stables Inc. Star Guitar, the sire of Minit to Stardom, was one of the most dominant Louisiana-breds of all time. He won 24 of his 30 lifetime starts and raced almost exclusively in stakes. He won five Louisiana Champions Day stakes en route to banking over $1.7 million (2007-2012).
After her victory in the Honorable Miss (G2), a race in which she defeated Ours to Run (3rd), Minit to Stardom posted a solid second behind multiple graded stakes winner Come Dancing in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) at Belmont. She was most recently seen romping to an easy allowance score on November 8 at Laurel.
“She looks as good as she did when she was primed and ready at Saratoga,” Benoit explained. “She has had some good races since and she is just as ready as now as she was then.”
Champions Day in is marked on every Louisiana breeder's calendar, and it has become a staple of local program at Fair Grounds,
“I try my best to promote our Louisiana breeding program,” Benoit said. “Champions day at Fair Grounds is our day as Louisiana breeders to showcase our horses. I remember the first Champions Day I had a horse I had bought for $500 and I got beaten a nose. It was so thrilling that day and I can honestly say it's still just as thrilling now. It doesn't matter what type of horse whether $500 or a $500,000 purchase, it's just as hard to win a horse race and that's what makes it so exciting.”
The remainder of the Louisiana Champions Day Stakes for Thoroughbreds are listed by the order they will be run on the card. Quarter Horse stakes info (races 1-3) to follow at the end.
Race 5: $100,000 Lassie (6 furlongs, 2yo fillies)
Off a runaway win on opening day of the current Fair Grounds' stand, Corinne and L. William Heiligbrodt's Vacherie Girl is installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite over seven rivals. In that career debut, he made a huge move from the back of the field and went on to win by 6 ½ lengths. Trainer Steve Asmussen teams up with jockey Florent Geroux, as the 2-year-old daughter of Tapiture looks for the first stakes victory in her young career.
Race 8: $100,000 Juvenile (6 furlongs, 2yo's)
Class-wise Three Diamonds Farm's Chimney Rock stands tall over his eight foes for trainer Mike Maker. The 2-year-old son of Artie Schiller exits a near miss second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on November 1. Listed as the 8-5 morning line favorite, Chimney Rock has raced almost exclusively on turf. Florent Geroux is named to ride the colt for the first time.
Off a near eight-length romp in his career debut on opening day, Columbine Stable LLC's Binding Agreement (4-1) could pose a serious threat for trainer Al Stall, Jr.
Race 9: $100,000 Turf (1 1/16 miles turf, 3yo's & up)
The 2018 edition of the the Champions Day Turf was washed off the grass and moved to the main track and Magic Vow, owned by Brittlyn Stable, Inc at the time, took full advantage in defeating four rivals. Claimed in June for just $5,000, Magic Vow returns (post 5, 12-1 morning line), but the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite in the field off is Kendel D Standlee's In the Navy, who won the Frankie L. Brothers Stakes two starts back over the Louisiana Downs turf for trainer Scott Gelner. Adam Beschizza has been named to ride.
Race 10: 150,000 Classic (1 1/8 miles, 3yo & up)
Last year's champion Underpressure will return to defend his Louisiana Champions Day Classic title for owner Mallory Greiner. Seven others will line up to face the 5-year-old gelded son of Birdstone, who is listed at 5-2 on the morning line. Underpressure, who was last seen at Delta Downs in Vinton Louisiana winning an allowance race by ¾ lengths, also won the “off the turf” Dixie Poker Ace in March at Fair Grounds. Corey Lanerie, who was aboard for both of those stakes victories, will be given a leg up by trainer Chris Richard.
Race 11: $100,000 Ladies Turf (1 1/16 miles turf, 3yo's & up, fillies & mares)
A full field of eleven is programmed for the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes on turf. With three wins from five lifetime turf starts, including a pair of dominant performances over the Stall-Wilson course, Baronne Farms' Is Too is listed as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite for trainer Eddie Johnston. The 4-year-old daughter of Midshipman eyes her third stakes victory of 2019. She has not run since September 7 at Louisiana Downs when defeated by fellow Ladies foe Eskenformore, who dropped a 30-1 bomb in the River Cities Stakes for Sugarland Thoroughbred Racing LLC, et all. Fair Grounds current leading rider Colby Hernandez has the assignment on Is Too.
Brittyn Stable, Inc.'s Mr. Al's Gal, twice stakes placed over the Fair Grounds turf, is listed as the 9-2 second choice.
Race 12: $100,000 Sprint (6 furlongs, 3yo &up)
Claimed for $25,000 in October of 2017, Ivery Sisters Racing LLC's Monte Man won seven straight prior to last year's Champions Day Sprint, a race that saw him finish third behind Givemeaminut. That is his only loss from five career starts at Fair Grounds for trainer Ron Faucheux. Listed as the 3-1 morning line favorite over 11 rivals on Saturday, the 6-year-old gelded son of Custom for Carlos has been a model of consistency over his career, earning just over $500,000. Monte Man will be ridden by Adam Beschizza on Saturday.
Valene Farms Classy John (12-1 morning line), winner of both the Louisiana Juvenile on Champions Day and the Louisiana Futurity last year, tackles his elders for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Hay Hollow Racing Stables LLC's Stand Him Up won the 2017 edition of the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint for “Tucker” Alonzo, but he's listed at 20-1 on Saturday's morning line. Robbins Family Racing's My Friend Flavin (12-1), who won the race in 2016, will be competing in the Champions Day Sprint for the fourth consecutive year.
Race 1: $100,000 Quarter Horse Juvenile (G2) (350 yards, 2yo's
Saturday's 13-race card (early post time of noon CT) kicks off with a full field of 2-year-old Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day QH Juvenile. Four in this very contentious event have won futurities this year, but the standout appears to be Runaway Second Down. The flashy gray son of Sir Runaway Dash captured the $700,000 Lee Berwick Futurity at Delta Downs in July; is the top money earner and has the highest speed figures in the field. Young trainer and junior barrel racing champion Robi Meche will give a leg up to jockey Raul Ramirez, Jr., one of the top riders in the country.
Race 2: $100,000 Quarter Horse Derby (G3) (400 yards, 3yo's)
Three-year-olds will compete at 400 yards in the $100,0000 Louisiana Champions Day Derby. #6 Mpshinning just ran last Saturday in the LQHBA Breeders Derby at Evangeline Downs. Has to be considered as he has been dominant throughout both his 2 and 3-year-old campaigns. However, #10 Tuckers Prize might just be peaking at the right time for trainer Preston Jourdan and jockey Damian Martinez. Front-running gelding has a perfect record at this distance as he goes for his fourth consecutive win.
Race 3: $100,000 Quarter Horse Classic (G2) (440 yards, 4yo & up)
The final Quarter Horse stakes of the afternoon, the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, will be contested at the “classic” distance of 440 yards, which is a quarter of a mile. DLJ Imma B Famous returns to Fair Grounds where he won the $40,000 Mid-City Stakes on September 7. The 6-year-old should give a good account of himself, but don't ignore defending champion #2 Lightemupwithcharm. He lost all chances in his last race when he “broke in the air” and with a clean start, he will be in the mix. The 5-year-old is trained by Miguel Rodriguez, who won last Saturday's richest Quarter Horse in Louisiana, the LQHBA Louisiana Million.
Martha Claussen's analysis of Saturday's Louisiana Champions Day card is sponsored by LQHBA. She will be joining Joe Kristufek on-air for the trio of Quarter Horse races and selected Thoroughbred events.
For complete Louisiana Champions Day entries, click here
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