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.
“I said to myself, please god, just this one time – just this one time let the result stand,” Stidham told me this morning.
Needless to say, the result did stand, and Her Emmynency was awarded a famous victory in the $500,000 race.
That Stidham was holding his breath comes as no surprise. Despite enjoying one of his most successful seasons to date, Stidham has endured a number of close finishes in graded stakes all year without finding himself in pole position. Saturday proved a welcome change of luck.
For Stidham, the victory was made that much sweeter in light of the filly’s life-threatening illness that she suffered at the back end of last season.
“It’s been a long road back,” he said, himself making the long drive to Laurel Park. “I couldn’t be happier. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster. She’s so tough – that toughness allowed her to keep her head in front.”
Her Emmynency has come out of the race in great shape. She will get an entry in the Grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs later this year. But most likely, she will be put away for next season, with the Breeders’ Cup a long-range target.
Stidham was quick, however, to acknowledge the support and patience of Her Emmynency’s owners, Dawn and Ike Thrash.
“The Thrashes are great owners. They were so patient with this filly. They gave us all the time we needed to bring her back from illness, never rushing us. They throughly deserved this success.”
Looking ahead, Approximator lines up today at Belmont Park, while La Luna Rouge heads to Meadowlands. Tomorrow at Hawthorne: Clearly See, Blue Moon and Kara’s Angel. One day later: Say a Hail Mary. Follow the Kitten is entered at Laurel Park Friday.