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NEW ORLEANS, LA – Louisiana-breds take center stage in the final 2 stakes of the meet as the $75,000 Star Guitar highlights an 11-race Saturday card that also includes the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Memorial.
The Star Guitar is named in honor of the richest Louisiana-bred ever, a Brittlyn Stable homebred who earned $1.749 million in a distinguished 30-24-0-2 career that included 22 stakes wins for trainer Al Stall Jr. This year’s renewal drew a deep field of 10 lined up to 1 1/16 miles, with bargain claim Maga Man entering off career-best form.
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Whispering Oaks Farm’s Maga Man (post 4 at 6/1 on Mike Diliberto’s morning line with Colby Hernandez to ride) has been a revelation of sorts since trainer Steve Flint claimed him for $12,500. The 6-year-old son of Musket Man had been a solid allowance and fringe stakes performer for his previous connections but was entered for $12,500 in a state-bred claimer here in January and easily won. Be it fate, luck, or a little of both, Flint eagerly put a claim in on a horse he was surprisingly familiar with.
“Believe it or not, it was all a chance coincidence,” Flint said. “I was running at Delta Downs, which I very rarely do, and this horse happened to be stalled right next to me at the receiving barn. He just had that look about him that he needed a little TLC and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Maga Man has improved significantly in 2 starts for Flint, as he won a state-bred optional-claimer here February 6 and was a close third on the turf in the local Dixie Poker Ace 21 days later. He’s now 5 for 22 lifetime, and while there are plenty of contenders in the Star Guitar, Flint enters with plenty of confidence.
“He’s in great form and I wouldn’t trade places with anybody, not to say there aren’t some other really good horses in the race,” Flint said. “I just think he’s coming into the race probably in the best shape he’s been in since I had him. We’ve had more time with him, he’s put on more weight, which he needs to be a better horse. If he can duplicate the first effort, we had with him on the dirt, I think he’s going to be tough.”
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Mallory Richard’s Underpressure (post 8 at 5/2 with James Graham) enters off a win in the February 10 Premier Championship for state-breds at Delta for trainer Chris Richard. The 7-year-old son of Birdstone is 14 for 40 with earnings of $838,182 in a distinguished career that shows multiple stakes wins. Underpressure was second, beaten just a nose, by fellow rival Pound for Pound in a local optional claimer in January and is clearly the one to fear in the lane.
Pine Knoll Farm’s Jus Lively (post 7 at 7/2 with Adam Beschizza) is 4 for 8 over the local main track for trainer Steve Asmussen but enters off a win in the Dixie Poker Ace. The 5-year-old son of Paddy O’Prado has won half of his 12 lifetime starts and was just a nose behind Maga Man in his win here in February.
Israel Flores Horses’ Pound for Pound (post 5 at 7/2 with Aubrie Green) figures to be in front early, as he wired Underpressure in January. The 6-year-old son of Redding Colliery was fifth to that rival in the Premier Championship at Delta and is 7 for 24 lifetime for trainer Andrea Ali.
Brittlyn Stable will start a pair of homebreds by Star Guitar in the hopes of winning a race near and dear, with Guitar Tribute (post 1 at 20/1 with Santos Sanjur) and Guitar Slim (post 3 at 20/1 with Declan Carroll) rating longshot looks for trainer Jose Camejo.
Completing the Star Guitar field from the rail out: Pendleton Larsen Jr.’s The Mo U No (post 2 at 20/1 with Jose Riquelme), who was second by a neck to Guitar Tribute on the turf last time for trainer Courtney Dandridge; Alston Thoroughbreds, Earl and Keith Hernandez, and John Duvieilh’s Jax Man (post 6 at 15/1 with Marcelino Pedroza), a well-beaten third behind Maga Man in the February 6 optional-claimer for trainer Sam David; Jana Wagner and Paradise Farm Corp’s Relentless Dancer (post 9 at 8/1 with Gabriel Saez), a 3-time stakes winner on dirt who was eighth in the Dixie Poker Ace for trainer Mike Maker; and Snake Racing’s Trey Midnite Moon (post 10 at 8/1 with Shaun Bridgmohan), who wheels back off a win over starter optional claimers here March 18 for trainer Bunky Richards.
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