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.
Tough Business proved well named when adding win number four to her resume this season, and her first for the Stidham barn since being claimed at Del Mar. In true Stidham fashion, Tough Business was up with the pace all the way, kicking clear under jockey Marcelino Pedroza at the top of the stretch before recording a comfortable 2 3/4 length victory at the wire.
The following day, owner Thad Ackel doubled-up for the weekend when the small and rotund Squatty–who already enjoys something of a celebrity Twitter following–got her name in lights after two fine efforts in defeat. Like a gun out of the gates, Squatty was never headed thereafter under jockey James Graham, and coasted home an easy two lengths to the good.
As promised Friday, Stidham has offered his thoughts on the great start he’s made at Fair Grounds. The unbeaten Toutsie Rules–owned in a partnership comprising Hilary Pridham, Marette Farrell, the Haynes Stable and Angela Ellis–is now possibly stake-race bound, and he has races at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds eyed up for this exciting young girl.
Stidham was, of course, delighted with Fantasize’s performance on Thanksgiving Day. “It was a very good effort by him, and he showed a good turn of foot going a mile, finishing strong and closing with a kick.”
Stidham said that fantasize–owned in partnership with Feel the Thunder Racing, Old Sangreal Racing and the big man himself–will probably return in another allowance race before, all being well, stepping up into stake race company in the not too distance future.
He also had news of his new million-dollar purchase to the barn, Leigh Court, who is settling into her new environs nicely. A fine 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, this multiple graded-stake winning mare will be geared up for a spring campaign at Keeneland, said Stidham. Though he intimated that she could take in races at either Oaklawn and Fair Grounds along the way.
A little more than a week into proceedings down in Louisiana, and Stidham is, unsurprisingly, pleased as punch with the manner of the start he and his charges have made.
“Aside from those victories last week, we won two races for Thad Ackel, which was nice. And La Luna Rouge was only beaten a head – that was a big effort from her,” he said. “Things are going well.”