Michael Stidham: Stall by Stall at the Fair Grounds / By Ryan Martin

(Tackett, a recent winner at the Fair Grounds, is one of many talented runners trained by Michael Stidham / Hodges Photography & Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

(Trainer Michael Stidham / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

Editor’s Note: Ryan Martin, nearly single-handily, has covered the Fair Grounds Race Meet since it began in November. He continues to provide all with interesting updates, features, and Stakes reviews and advances. His “Stall by Stall” feature is one of the best and most innovative storylines of the year. He looks at trainers and goes through the barn talking about their upcoming race schedule. Here is the latest installment. And, job well done

By Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds Media Team:

Like many horsemen in the game, racing was a major part of trainer
Michael Stidham’s life since he was a boy. His father George Stidham
was a journeyman rider, became an agent for Hall of Fame rider Bill
Hartack upon his retirement, and would eventually train horses himself.
When a young Stidham finally did go out on his own, it didn’t take long
for him to learn what success tasted like. In 1980 he sent out his first
winner (Kim’s Pet) as well as his first stakes winner (Me Good Man,
Independence Stakes at Louisiana Downs). Fast forward 40 years later
and Stidham is still no stranger to success. He has campaigned a total
of 22 graded stakes winners.

Although he was born in New Jersey and got his training career started
in Florida, Stidham considers New Orleans his hometown, and in 2016,
earned his first training title at Fair Grounds. With a total of 50 horses on
the Fair Grounds backstretch, Stidham is anything but short of well-bred
talent. He’s enjoyed a good meet so far with ten wins and currently sits
at fourth place in the trainer’s standings. Here are a handful of horses
that can add to his already successful meet:

Elsa: Like every Thoroughbred that sports the Godolphin blue, the now
3-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom boasts a highly prestigious
pedigree. She is out of Abtasaamah, whose two-time graded stakes
winning dam Fleet Lady produced Eclipse Award winner Midshipman as
well as Fast Cookie – the dam of three-time Grade I winner Frosted.
Elsa scored an 11-1 upset in the Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del
Mar back in November in her most recent effort and there is a possibility
that her sophomore debut will take place in the $60,000 Chantel Lanerie
Memorial Overnight Stakes in February.

“She looked impressive breaking her maiden at Laurel. She was third in
a sprint stake at Saratoga. We took her out to Del Mar and ran her in the
Jimmy Durante, she won that impressively. There’s an overnight stake in
the next book and if not that we’ll run her in a stake at Gulfstream. She’s
a possible for that, but we have high hopes for her going forward.”

Superioritycomplex (Ire): An overseas acquisition for just north of a
half-million by Mt. Brilliant Farm from the Tattersalls December Mares
Sale in 2017, this 5-year-old daughter of Hard Spun is another with quite
the top-notch pedigree. Her maternal grand dam was 1987 Group 1
Yorkshire Oaks winner Hellenic (Ire) who produced Group 1 winners
Greek Dance (Ire) and Islington (Ire). Superioritycomplex has won twice
in five starts for Stidham. She emerged from a 368-day layoff in winning
fashion over the turf at Arlington on August 18. Fourth in the Blushing
K.D. in her stakes debut last out, she’ll give stakes company another
crack in the $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes on January 19.

“We’ll run her in the Marie Krantz. She’s an improving type that came
over from Europe and she’s won the ‘a-other-than’ at Arlington and the
‘two-other-than’ here. We’re hoping to get her some black type. She’s
one that’s on the come.”

Moon Dash: An injury forced the 4-year-old daughter on the shelf
following the 2017 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf where
she was tenth, but she’s been back on the work tab since late
September. With plenty of works recorded since her hiatus, one can
expect her to race sooner rather than later. Out of the stakes winning
More Than Ready broodmare In the Slips, she was a $650,000
purchase from the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Two-Year-Olds In Training
Sale in April 2017.

“She’s a filly that we have back in training. She won her first start as a
two-year-old and she’s now four, but she came back in the Surfer Girl at
Santa Anita and got beat a nose that day. We kept her out there and ran
her in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and she didn’t run well that
day. We gave her some time off with an injury, she’s come back from
that, and she’s basically ready to run now. We feel real good about her.
We think she’s got a bright future.”

Swordsman: Stretching out in distance proved to be no issue for this 3-
year-old son of First Samurai when he wired the field over a sloppy main
track last month. One can expect this $150,000 purchase from the
Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017 to see turf at some point in
the near future. He comes from the same family as graded stakes
winners Dixie City and Unified.

“He won first time going two turns last time pretty nice in an off the turf
race in the slop. It was the third start of his life and we’re planning on getting him on grass as soon as possible. That was an off the turf race but he won anyway. We think he’s got a pretty decent future.”

Synchrony: The most accomplished horse in the Stidham barn has
sights set on repeat victories in the Grade III, $150,000 Fair Grounds
Handicap and the Grade II, $300,000 Muniz Memorial Stakes. The 6-
year-old son of Tapit enjoyed a prosperous campaign last year which
included that pair of graded stakes wins at Fair Grounds as well as wins
at Monmouth Park in the Oceanport Stakes and Red Bank Stakes (both
Grade III). In addition he was third in the Grade I Old Forester Turf
Classic behind Yoshida (Jpn). A Pin Oak Stud homebred, he is out of the
multiple stakes winner Brownie Points who scored stakes wins on dirt
and turf.

“He’s had the whole month of light training, jogging, galloping, and he’s
very healthy, happy, and sound off of his campaign from last year. We’re
gearing him up for the Fair Grounds Handicap and the Muniz. He ran out there in California and got in tons of trouble. He came flying and I think he was the best horse in the race. When he comes back, he should be ready to go for those two big races.”

Tackett: This David Ross homebred successfully stretched out to two
turns two starts back in November and defeated winners on December 22. Stidham will give the West Virginia-bred 3-year-old son of Limehouse
a shot to earn Derby qualifying points in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte
Stakes on January 19. He is out of the Macho Uno broodmare Unostrike
who is a half-sister to two-time graded stakes winner Llanarmon.

“He’s probably our top three year old. He broke his maiden impressively
in his first time going two turns and came back and beat winners by a
neck here the other day. We’re planning on running him, if all is well, the Lecomte. He’s a big horse with a long stride and he’s a West Virginia
bred which is kind of a rare situation but he doesn’t know where he’s
bred. He’s doing well. He’s got a good attitude, a big stride and tactical
speed going long so were real excited about him.”

Higher Power: This well-bred 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro is a half-brother to four-time graded stakes winning millionaire Alternation and
made his first start for Stidham on December 15 where he was third in a
second-level allowance event on the main track. He previously raced for
Donnie Von Hemel for whom he recorded two victories at Oaklawn Park
last year. Stidham will consider stakes company for him down the road,
but he has to prove he’s worthy of testing such waters first.

“I got him in from Pin Oak. He was in the two other than and kind of got
hung out a little bit. Was a closing third and he hadn’t run since April so I
think he’s another one that second off the layoff should be real tough. If
he runs well there then we can consider some stakes competition for
him.”

Supreme Aura: Stallionaire Enterprises’ 4-year-old son of Candy Ride
(Arg.) looked mighty impressive in his career debut back in August 2017,
where he drew off to win by 4¾ lengths at Delaware Park. He defeated
winners at Fair Grounds last January following that win and later in the
summer won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. Supreme Aura has
not raced since the Long Branch Stakes on July 7 where he was fourth.

“He won the Pegasus at Monmouth in the summer. We gave him some
time off. He just came back in but he’ll be ready before the meet is over.
We think he’s got some good races in him.”

Sweet Diane: This stakes-placed 3-year-old daughter of Will Take
Charge broke her maiden at Penn National at second asking and went
on to finish second against stakes company at Gulfstream Park in
December. She is out of the Tiznow broodmare Inside Passage who is a
half to Glinda the Good – the dam of Eclipse Award winner and Kentucky
Derby runner up Good Magic. She will point towards the $150,000
Silverbulletday Stakes on January 19.

“She was the favorite in the Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream, which my
other horse Classic Fit won. Sweet Diane was the favorite and was
second in the race. We’re bringing her over for the Silverbulletday. She’ll
come from Tampa and we plan on going there but we think she’s pretty
nice.”

She is very naturally quick and that helps her cause a great deal,” Amoss added. “Certainly this racetrack helped her cause…having said that, I think that was a really good performance by a filly that a lot of people questioned whether she legitimately wanted to go a lot of ground…she took it to them today right out of the gate and it was fun to watch.”

Tom Amoss, The trainer of Serengeti Empress

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