Benoit: Sunbean is 'all about Louisiana'
Last winter it was Brittlyn Stable's Star Guitar who brought national recognition to Louisiana's Thoroughbred breeding program by becoming the Pelican State's all-time leading money earner. Now Brittlyn Stable's Sunbean could pick up the bit as his potential replacement by running well in New Orleans' Grade 3 Risen Star on Saturday at Fair Grounds.
Although the race was drawn Monday, the field for the Risen Star is still fluid and will, of necessity, suffer some changes given its overflow status, its cross-entered horses and the non-committal comments of several of the horsemen involved.
Sunbean, as the present pride and joy of Brittlyn owner Evelyn Benoit, is a case in point given the liquidity of his status in Saturday's $400,000 prep race for the 100th running of the upcoming Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30.
Last Sunday, albeit before the Risen Star post position draw, Benoit shared some feelings about why she wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star.
"He's all about Louisiana," she said of Sunbean, one day after her sophomore son of Brahms breezed a half-mile in :48 2/5. "He's a joy, a big joy, to have in my barn. I want to pull off something for our sport that will bring some new people into the Louisiana breeding program, and also bring back some of the people who have left it in the last few years.
"When Sunbean's out there, he doesn't look like he's from Louisiana. When I watched his breeze (on February 16), it was like he was just gliding out there. He does it so easy. The jock came back and told me all you have to do is tap him and he'll go just as fast as you want him to go. He's very talented, and with that much speed he can be very dangerous."
If he were to run in the Risen Star, Sunbean would leave from the extreme outside post. However, the bay colt was also cross-entered in Saturday's $60,000 Gentilly at Fair Grounds, a grass race restricted to Louisiana-bred sophomores slated at about one mile over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, and it appears that race could be the focus now.
"The reason I wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star was because I loved Risen Star (the horse) so much and (Risen Star co-owner) Louie Roussel has always been such a good friend of mine," Benoit said Wednesday morning. "But all my life, whenever things I've wanted haven't quite worked out the way I wanted, they've always turned around and become a blessing for me sometime later down the line. You just never know.
"I probably would think (trainer) Al (Stall Jr.) would prefer to run Sunbean in the Gentilly," she continued. "One of the reasons I wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star was because the race was right outside our door, but so is the Gentilly. I'm just happy the horse is not going to be sitting in the barn on such a big day. If he runs well in the Gentilly, maybe I can bring him back and run him in the Louisiana Derby."
"We don't want to run two horses from the 13- and 14-holes," Stall admitted Wednesday morning. "I don't know what to do with Departing (who drew post 14), as far as if there's one scratch or two. We'll just ride things out. We're not going to train the horses any different...We'll talk about running Saturday morning, I guess."
With the Risen Star field is still in flux, Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell was pleased with the possibility that Palace Malice might face less than a full gate in Saturday's contest.
"I'd rather not have all the traffic problems (Palace Malice) might have with a field full, so for us, the fewer horses we face the better," Campbell said Wednesday, speaking over the phone from Aiken, South Carolina, about the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Curlin.
"Of course, a lot of times you can end up with traffic problems in a five-horse field. Sometimes it works out that way, as well. But we're all looking forward to coming down there Friday. I look forward to seeing all my friends at Fair Grounds and I always look forward to coming back to New Orleans."
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