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Barn Notes: Friday, December 16


·        Stidham Seeks Return to Form with Secret Someone

·        Running Mate Getting ‘Bigger and Stronger’ for Jones

·        Green Mask Needs Perfect Timing in Bonapaw

·        Proforma Adds a Little Spice to the Sugar Bowl

·        Fair Grounds to Offer Racing Club

·        I’m a Chatterbox Returns to Work Tab


Mt. Brilliant Farm and Orrin Ingram’s Secret Someone has had a solid year for trainer Mike Stidham. With two stakes victories and a graded stakes placing from six 2016 starts, the 5-year-old mare from the final crop of A. P. Indy has the credentials to be a force in Saturday’s $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes. The horse to beat in the full field of turf fillies and mares is Richard and Bertram Klein’s Cash Control, whom Secret Someone defeated three starts back in the $348,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf. 

“She just has to show up. If she does that, she’s fine,” Stidham said. “She’s beaten Cash Control before, so she’s proven she is competitive against her.”

Having twice raced off the board against Grade I company this year, the chestnut filly shipped down to Miami for a class break in the Grade III My Charmer Handicap at Gulfstream Park West. Never comfortable, the Mt. Brilliant homebred never picked up her feet under Trevor McCarthy, finishing eighth of nine. Robby Albarado, aboard for her Kentucky Downs win, returns to the saddle on Saturday.

“She did not like the Gulfstream Park West surface,” Stidham explained. “She also had to ship 16 hours down there, so we didn’t give her the best chance. Hopefully she backs up to her best form.”


Since debuting in a romp on Oct. 5 at Delaware Park, Bret Jones homebred Running Mate has had significant buzz about him. The dark bay son of freshman sire Creative Cause amplified that buzz into a cicada chorus when the Kentucky-bred charge put on an encore performance against tougher foes in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots allowance company on Nov. 25 next out. On Saturday, the Larry Jones trainee will try to take the next step up and earn his first stakes victory in his third career start in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes. 

“He’s doing well and coming along the way we want him to,” Jones said. “He’s definitely in a growing stage. A lot of these Creative Causes are all growing right now, it seems, and they’re getting bigger and stronger.

“The wider (post five) draw in a sprint race is great,” Jones continued. “If we get lucky enough to win with him, we’ll let him gallop out some and get a little more out of it to hopefully set us up for a two-turn race next out.”


When at his best, Abdullah Saeed Almaddah’s Green Mask is one of the top turf sprinters in the country and on racing’s biggest weekend over the last two years he has proven such with solid third- and fifth-place finishes in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. In this, the 5-year-old Brad Cox-trained son of Mizzen Mast has earned his 5-2 favoritism for Saturday’s $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. In order to justify such, the dark bay Kentucky-bred will have to prove he can win at the 5½-furlong turf trip — a distance in which he has hit the board in all five attempts, but never won.

“He’s been doing well and he looks really good,” Cox said. “I think he’ll like the 5½ furlongs, even if it’s a touch short for him. He’s more a six-to-seven-furlong sprinter, but with the long stretch here, he should like it. 

“I was really pleased with the race last time (in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) and thought he made a good showing,” he continued. “He bounced out in good shape and I actually had this race in the back of my mind even before the Breeders’ Cup.”

Comfortable running between a stalking position and mid-pack in most of his races, Green Mask is often closing well late, but appears to be unlucky on multiple occasions. On four occasions this year, he has lost turf sprint stakes by less than a length. 

“He’s a horse that tends to waits once he passes horses, so it’s probably him more than him actually being unlucky,” Cox concluded. “He needs to be timed perfectly.”


While Bret Jones’ Larry Jones-trained Running Mate will likely go off as a heavy favorite in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, defending meet champion trainer Mike Stidham is showing confidence that his improving freshman Proforma will be up to the challenge in the six-furlong stakes. 

After debuting third behind recent Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile winner Saint’s Fan in a Churchill Downs maiden on Nov. 4, the son of Munnings returned 23 days later under the Twin Spires to defeat well-regarded Mark Casse trainee Unbridled West by a neck.

“He has definitely moved forward since his maiden win,” Stidham said. “He’s kept good weight and is mentally doing well. He shipped in (to the Fair Grounds) and worked well over the track, so we looked at the (Sugar Bowl) and thought we fit. He has a good post and we can be sitting in a good spot, so we hope he shows up again.”

Owned by David Ross’ DARRS, Inc., Proforma is the third foal and winner of the Salt Lake mare Caseys Irish Pride. He was purchased for $65,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Mixed Sale in February 2015. 


Following the success of the Churchill Downs Racing Club, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has created the Fair Grounds Racing Club that will have two horses trained by veteran trainer Al Stall, Jr. The two horses, a 2-year-old colt and a 2-year-old filly, are already working under Stall’s care in Louisiana and will be purchased from Spendthrift Farm. Both horses are by Spendthrift’s fashionable young sire Into Mischief.

The Fair Grounds Racing Club will offer 200 people a chance to experience the thrills of Thoroughbred racing as an owner. Memberships in the Fair Grounds Racing Club are available for $500 and incur no further expense throughout the club. The one-time annual membership dues are used to purchase the horses and pay for training fees and other associated expenses. The club gives members an opportunity to learn about the exciting opportunities as a Thoroughbred racing owner with complete transparency regarding all facets of ownership.

Perks of being a club member include regular updates on the program via email and a dedicated Facebook page, special club events for viewing certain morning workouts, privileged access to the paddock before the club’s horses race, special accommodations on race day and exclusive members-only events.

For more information, visit www.fgno.com.


Carolyn and Fletcher Gray’s Multiple Grade I-winning homebred 4-year-old fillyI’m a Chatterbox was the highlight of the Friday morning work tab, returning to serious business for the first time since finishing fifth in the Grade I $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff behind Beholder. The $2.26 million-earning daughter of Munnings worked three furlongs in 37.20.

Multiple stakes winner and one of the top local handicap horses of 2016, Eagle also returned to the tab for trainer Neil Howard and owner-breeder William S. Farish, working three furlongs in 38.20. The son of Candy Ride (ARG) was last seen finishing fourth in the Grade II Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 9.

Promising debut juvenile winner Bobby the Brain returned to the tab for the first time since wiring his two-turn first-out field by 2½ lengths. Owned by Stallionaire Enterprises and trained by Mike Stidham, the son of Pioneerof the Nile worked a half-mile in 49.60. Allowance company or the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 21 are still on the table for the well-bred colt.