Brittlyn Stable’s Sunbean will be chasing much more than another victory.
With a victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at The Fair Grounds, Sunbean officially eclipses the $1 million mark for lifetime earnings and places himself in elite company amongst some of the best Louisiana-bred horses ever.
“I’ve been training for about five years now, and I’ve never had a horse reach $1 million, so it would be a huge accomplishment,” said Sunbean’s trainer, Ron Faucheux. “Sunbean is a great horse, and I’m just lucky to be training him. He does everything right, and we are excited about his chances on Saturday.”
Evelyn Benoit, Sunbean’s owner, is also the owner of Star Guitar — the highest-earning Louisiana-bred horse of all time — and said she sees plenty of similarities between the two horses, but what separates the two may make things difficult for Sunbean in Saturday’s Champions Day Classic.
“He reminds me a lot of Star Guitar; they have similar qualities,” Benoit said. “The biggest difference I see in them is that Star Guitar used to be able to run around the Fair Grounds four or five times with no problem, but Sunbean is really good when he sticks to a mile or a mile and one-sixteenth.
“Sunbean would much rather chase you down at the end.”
Sunbean will be chasing the $1 million mark with a victory in Saturday’s Classic, but Faucheux holds no punches about the lofty goals they have for the 4-year-old.
“Star Guitar earned $1.7 million and is the highest earning Louisiana-bred ever,” Faucheux said. “I’m not going to make it any kind of secret, that’s a goal of our’s that we would like to accomplish. We think very highly of Sunbean and we think he certainly has a shot at reaching that goal if everything falls into place.”
Benoit added that she not only believes Sunbean can reach Star Guitar’s record, but she’s rooting for it.
“We are very proud of what Star Guitar was able to accomplish, but that’s what records are for, we see it as something to shoot for; it’s a goal,” Benoit said. “Star Guitar broke so many records and won so many races, but I think if anyone can beat Star’s record, it’s Sunbean.
“It’s not easy to win these types of races, because everybody wants to beat you, but (Sunbean) does it so effortlessly.”
One devastating blow to Sunbean’s chances at winning Saturday’s Classic was the loss of jockey Richard Eramia to a dislocated shoulder, according to his agent Rick Mocklin. Corey Lanerie, the winner of five consecutive “Leading Rider” honors at Churchill Downs, will be replacing Eramia, and while Faucheux said losing Eramia will be tough because of his relationship with Sunbean, he also said that bringing in an experienced jockey like Lanerie makes things easier for everyone involved.
“Richard has been great with Sunbean and it was really unfortunate that he got injured,” Faucheux said. “But we feel like having Corey as a guy with experience, winning at places like Churchill Downs and a couple other major tracks, it makes that transition between jockeys a little less stressful, but we certainly would love to have Richard if we could.”
Despite the loss of Eramia, Sunbean is still believed to be the heavy favorite heading into Saturday’s race.