Star Guitar Filly Scores in the Very One Stakes on the Preakness Undercard
by Gary McMillen
Steve Queen photos
Close your eyes. Imagine Evelyn Benoit speechless.
Seldom at a loss for words—Benoit lost her voice for three days after Brittlyn Stable’s home-bred Wild About Star won the $100,000 The Very One stakes on May 14 at Pimlico Race Course on the undercard of the Preakness Stakes.
Benoit was with her 5-year-old Star Guitar mare in the shed row at Delaware Park the night before the race. “I went straight from the airport to the barn,” Benoit recalls. “It was 10 o’clock at night and she was cleaning up a bucket of oats and molasses. Her color and attitude were great. She looked amazing. You could tell she was sitting on a big race.”
Trained by Venezuelan-born Jose Camejo, Wild About Star shipped in to Pimlico on the morning of the race. From the first crop of Star Guitar, Wild About Star had previously done all of her racing in Louisiana. Going five furlongs on the turf and breaking from an outside post, Wild About Star made a statement for Louisiana-breds on the national scene. Three wide on the turn, Wild About Star chased the early pace before taking command at the 1/8th pole and drew off to win by daylight.
It may not have been good for her vocal cords, but for Benoit, winning a $100,000 stakes on the Preakness undercard was a dream come true. “From the time I landed at Delaware Park until we were in the winner’s circle I was treated like royalty,” Benoit recalls of the experience. “Every single person we met in Baltimore was kind and accommodating. Day or night the management and staff at Pimlico allowed us access to everything.”
“The atmosphere at the track was incredible. The place was packed,” Benoit continued. “The whole day was one big party just like the Kentucky Derby. The crowd was really into it. The enthusiasm was off the charts.”
In the party atmosphere and media attention, Benoit never made it back to her reserved seat in the clubhouse to watch the race. “People that I had never seen in my life came up and wanted to talk,” she explained. “When I walked out of the paddock I couldn’t find a place to stand.”
Benoit is no stranger to traveling to stakes venues and being on hand to root for her horses. “In forty years I don’t think there has been more than two occasions when I was not present,” she says. “It is very important to me. I just keep trying to promote horse racing in any way that I can. No matter what other business ventures I am involved with, horse racing has my maximum attention.”
Louisiana-bred Horse of the Year four times, the top money earning Louisiana-bred in history and winner of 24 of 30 starts, Star Guitar is the glue that holds Benoit’s racing stable together. “From the very beginning I knew that Star Guitar was the best horse I ever bred,” Benoit says. “From the day he started racing my bond with him grew stronger and got me through some tough personal times.”
For Benoit, winning The Very One stakes on the Preakness undercard was exhilarating but she is not one to dwell in the past. “I can’t say enough about my trainer Jose Camejo and his racing team,” Benoit explains. “They are so thrilled and committed to the progeny of Star Guitar. I’m looking forward to finding more quality mares to breed to Star Guitar. Just wait until you see the next batch.”