Tomorrow at Laurel and Monmouth Parks, the Stidham stable fires off a couple of flaming stake race arrows in the shape of Rapid Rhythm and Proforma.
On a memorable weekend for the stable, Stallion Heiress pulverized the opposition in the $50,000 Joseph E. Spanky Broussard Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds Saturday, proving, in no uncertain terms, that the cloud hanging over the barn these past few weeks is well and truly banished!
2016 will go down in history as a year that probably means something a little different to whoever you ask. But for Mike Stidham, and everybody who works for Stidham Racing, last year will be remembered for one thing, and one thing only: the great man’s finest year to date as a trainer.
New Orleans Lady’s victory at Arlington Saturday means that, with $940,790 in the kitty, Mike Stidham’s still atop the trainers table (based on prize money earned) with less than a month left of this summer’s meet at the Chicago track, meaning he’s still in line for his second straight trainer’s title!
The Stidham stable notched up two more victories at Arlington over the weekend, along with another fine performance by Zipessa in the Grade I Beverly D Stakes, all of which means that the name atop the trainer’s standings at the Chicago track still begins with an S and ends with an M.
Mike Stidham may have been bumped from first to second place on the trainer’s standings at Arlington over the weekend (though he sits just $8,000 shy of new leader Larry Rivelli’s prize money haul), it was another bonanza weekend of winners at the Chicago track for the barn!
Another magnificent week of action comprised a stake win for former Canadian Champion three-year-old filly Leigh Court alongside a number of fine performances, and the action on this Valentine’s Day weekend promises further fireworks as the form of the stable at present continues to sizzle!
The Stidam barn heads into the weekend still very much riding a high. Not only is the Stidham name still sitting atop the trainers’ standings at Louisiana’s premier track (with $218,140 in the kitty and an incredible 41 percent win strike-rate), but the winners keep rolling in as sure and steady as the Hurricanes being poured on Bourbon Street!
While the past few days have proven frustrating for the Stidham barn–plenty of horses running well and knocking on the door, though not quite managing to get their heads in front–but hopes are high that the flood-gates will open with a host of runners at the end of the week.
After Her Emmynency passed the post first in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland Saturday, Mike Stidham was being interviewed by TVG when he saw the lights flash indicating an objection to the winner – Her Emmynency and the runner-up Miss Temple City had been involved in a bit of scrimmaging turning for home.
Stidham’s heart sank.
The inimitable Zubi Zubi Zu and Brother Wayne produced a nice across the card double for the Stidham stable yesterday. And hopes are high that the good form continues today – especially with barn standard-bearer Her Emmynency going for the biggest win of her career today at Keeneland.
The Stidham horses arrived at Laurel Park en masse last week, and hopes are high that the beautiful Maryland track will prove a happy hunting ground for the Stidham barn – especially if events over the weekend are anything to go by.
The scorching summer temperatures are nearly as red-hot as Stidham’s current run of form, and although he hasn’t posted any winners thus far this week (even though Skipping ran admirably today at Arlington to finish a close second, and Aftermarketspoiler was beaten less than a length yesterday), he heads into the weekend with a team packed with talent.
First came the arch rivalries this weekend at Wimbledon between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, then Serena Williams and her latest hapless victim, then came Stidham’s very own Arch Rivalry, who made quite the impression to break his maiden at Arlington yesterday.
It’s another sizzler of a weekend for the Stidham stable, with Notte d’Oro going for the Minnesota H. B. P. A. Distaff Stakes (a race Stidham’s Every Way finished a fine second in last year) and Warriorscmoutoplay headed to the Jostle Stakes amid an array of runners.
While the eyes of the nation will be on Pimlico this afternoon, that doesn’t mean the racing world as a whole grinds to a halt, for the eyes of those from the Stidham barn will be focused on Churchill Downs today, where the big man heads with runners in both divisions of the Keertana Stakes.
Valentine’s Day might have proven a loveless one for Mike Stidham on the racetrack this year, when his sole runner at Fair Grounds finished out of the frame. But he’s got lined up a four-strong squadron of runners tomorrow to make up for the distinct lack of love today!
Oaklawn Park may have been on the receiving end of a rather chilly arctic blast, ruling out an eagerly awaited appearance from Mike Stidham’s Toutsie Rules today, but the good news is that the race has been rescheduled for next Thursday, and what is more, the trainer has a host of runners pencilled in for tomorrow, Sunday and Monday to make up for any sense of disappointment.
If I Ever, Profluent and Katie’s Eyes book-ended the turn of the New Year for Mike Stidham with a trifecta of nice wins at Fair Grounds, but after something of a hectic holiday season, Stidham gets to enjoy a well-earned breather with only one runner scheduled over the weekend.
Kids Rule and South Beach Dancer line up at Fair Grounds tomorrow as Mike Stidham’s last grasp chances to add to his season’s impressive haul. But as 2014 draws towards its bitter-sweet finale, we should sit back and reflect upon what has been in many ways one of Stidham’s most glittering years as a trainer.
While for many, Christmas means shutting off and winding down for a few days, for the likes of Mike Stidham and his barn of graft-hardened employees, horses still need to be fed, cleaned, exercised and watered, as well as the finishing touches put to the laundry-list of runners scheduled over the holiday period.
The lightening start Mike Stidham has made at Fair Grounds this year has made Usain Bolt look like a beer-swigging, twinkie-eating couch-potato, and the two victories supplied by Fantasize and Toutsie Rules towards the end of last week was doubled when Squatty and Tough Business recorded their own fine wins over the weekend.
Mike Stidham has fairly sprinted out of the blocks at Fair Grounds this year, already sending out two winners in the last two days, thanks to Fantasize and Toutsie Rules’ gutsy performances. And he’s hoping that stable stalwart, Ground Transport, can continue that fine run of form when he lines up in the Swatara Stakes at Penn National today.
The colored beads have been fished out of the Stidham closet and the Mardi Gras costumes have been given a dusting off in anticipation of the start of the winter racing season at Fair Grounds this Friday – a meet in which the trainer has always been a major force.
The race may have fallen on a quiet afternoon at one of California’s less star-studded tracks, but when Star’s Woman passed the post first in the maiden special weight at Golden Gate this past Sunday, the victory was of monumental importance to Mike Stidham and all who have supported him throughout his 35-year career, for it marked his 1,500th career victory as a trainer.
After the high-octane fireworks of last weekend, when Her Emmynency staked her claim for Breeders’ Cup glory with an award winning performance in the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita, this weekend promises something a little more sobering as Mike Stidham prepares to saddle only three runners spread between Keeneland and Hawthorne.
All roads lead to Rome, they say – well, in Her Emmynency’s case, the road she’s currently traveling is headed for a climactic collision-course with the very best of her generation in the Breeders’ Cup on October 31 after her scintillating win in the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita today.
On a sun-splashed balmy Wednesday morning this week at Santa Anita, Her Emmynency, her coat a gleaming shade of walnut, was on her way to the paddock for schooling when I asked Mike Stidham assistant Chris Davis how she’ll fair in the Surfer Girl Stakes on Sunday. His response: “Winner, winner, chicken dinner.”
And with so many of Stidham’s sharpest arrows aimed at multiple big prizes this weekend, optimism is high and chickens run scared as the Stidham stable sits poised on the edge of one of it’s most important few days this season.
J. M. Barrie once wrote: “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” While that sentiment has more than an element of truth to it, Mike Stidham would argue to the contrary as he packs his belongings and prepares to leave Arlington Park for another year happy to reflect upon and remember yet another triumphant summer spent at Chicago’s feted racecourse.