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.
Boy, 2016 will take some topping. Stidham finished the year with his biggest ever year-end haul: $3,747,718 in total prize-money earned. He also made it past the 100 winner mark for the first time, wrapping things up with 105 winners in total. These handsome totals put him 36th among the top trainers in the country.
A number of days stand out from the crowd. Earlier in the year, Speedway Stables’ Leigh Court produced a great stake-race double, taking the Mardi Gras Stakes at Fair Grounds in February before claiming the Grade III Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine in April.
Leigh Court wasn’t the only graded stakes winner last year. Empyrean Stables’ Zipessa ran away with the Grade III Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes before finishing third in the GI Beverly D, second in the GI Rodeo Drive Stakes, then capping her season with a fine run in the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
There were other great stake-race performances from a number of other runners last year, including DARRS Inc’s Proforma, Empyrean Stables and Two Princesses’ Diadura, Mt. Brilliant Farms’ Secret Someone, and Dare to Dream Stables’ Jockamo’s Song.
And let’s not forget, Stidham also claimed another first last year when clinching his first ever trainer’s title at Fair Grounds.
“It was a great year, that’s for sure,” said Stidham, about his achievements. ” We were so lucky. The horses remained in flying form all season through, and things just clicked for us.”
“That said, it was a real group effort. I think I’ve got the best team working for me of any trainer in the country. From the grooms and hotwalkers, all the way up to the exercise riders and assistants, everybody knows their jobs inside and out. Even more importantly, they love their horses, and I think that shows in the results.”
“I need to thank my assistant Hilary for the fine work she does behind the scenes. So much of last year’s success is down to her, and she really is the glue that holds everything together. I’d also like to single out the great work put in by my other assistants–Thomas Stuckey, Dinicio Perez, Anna Kinney, and Ben Trask–each of whom play such an important role.”
“Lastly, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my amazing owners who are the backbone to the whole operation,” he added. “Not only do they think enough of me to provide me with such a gorgeous squad of horses to train, but they make what I do such a pleasure. I can’t thank them enough. I never once forget that I wouldn’t be where I am today without their tremendous support down through the years, and it just means so much to me that I can repay them with a year like 2016.”
Stidham then signed off with an ominous warning to his rivals: “2016 was indeed a great year, yes, but one thing I am not is complacent. And you can be absolutely certain that I am going to try my hardest to make 2017 even more of a success for everyone involved.”