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.
Leading the charge is stable-standard bearer Istanford, who lines up Saturday under jockey Robby Albarado in the Grade I First Lady Stakes at Keeneland – a $400,000 race over a mile for fillies and mares three-years-old and up. This is the first time that Stidham’s trail-blazing filly has faced her elders, and as expected for a race of this stature, this is by far the toughest task placed before her. But Istanford is riding high after a scorching run of success this summer, and the early morning-line notch her up as an 8/1 chance to burn off her rivals yet again.
Istanford isn’t the only Stidham runner bidding for the very highest honors this Saturday at Keeneland. Ike Walker, a fine fifth last time out in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity, is one of 12 to line up in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity – a $500,000 race for two-year-olds run over one and one sixteenth miles. Todd Pletcher’s Carpe Diem is the likely favorite, but Stidham’s runner holds solid chances in an open looking contest. Again, Robby Albarado rides.
Over at Indiana Grand Race Course, Zubi Zubi Zu and Ground Transport bid for their own inky stamp of black type. Zubi Zubi Zu faces 12 runners in the TaWee Stakes – a mile race for three-year-olds worth a tidy $100,000. Zubi Zubi Zu is bidding to bounce back from a slightly disappointing run last time out at Keeneland, and she’s a 12/1 chance to strike under Alan Garcia.
Ground Transport is looking to add the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes to the two stake trophies he picked up earlier in the year. Stidham’s four-year-old has been slugging it out against much tougher opposition since, but he’s an early morning line 5/2 shot to finish ahead of his seven other rivals this time. Trevor McCarthy rides.
Over at Santa Anita Sunday, Her Emmynency faces a packed field of 13 in the Surfer Girl Stakes – a mile race for two-year-old fillies worth $100,000. Stidham’s walnut wonder finished a mighty second–beaten an agonizing neck–in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante last time out on only her second racecourse appearance. With the field lacking another star of the wattage of Sunset Glow, Her Emmynency looks well placed to earn some sweet tasting compensation under jockey Joe Talamo.
Elsewhere, Lookingoutforyou runs at Keeneland tomorrow, South Beach Dancer heads to Hawthorne while George’s Peach is entered at Santa Anita. Helen Kathleen runs on the Keeneland under card Saturday. The same day, Star’s Woman is Stidham’s sole representative at Santa Anita.
Check back in again Monday for a recap of the weekend action.