01/17/2012 4:10PM

Fair Grounds: Applauding gets her distance test in Silverbulletday Stakes

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Applauding will make her two-turn debut in Saturday's Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS – Ask trainer Al Stall how he feels about Applauding’s chances of stretching her speed around two turns, and he will only shrug.

“You have absolutely no idea how they’re going to do it until you try,” Stall said. “At least, I don’t.”

The question about Applauding’s ability to route has implications for major 3-year-old filly races early this season. If Applauding can transfer her obvious brilliance from sprints to a route of ground, she becomes a favorite to win the Fair Grounds Oaks in March and a candidate for the Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday in May. If not, the trajectory of her campaign changes, with a focus on major one-turn races, like the Acorn and the Test in New York.

Applauding burst onto the racing scene in October when, racing over a Keeneland main track that gave new resonance to the term “glib,” she set a Polytrack course record for six furlongs in her career debut. Stall and owner Ramona Bass sat chilly thereafter, passing Churchill in favor of Fair Grounds, and Applauding did not disappoint in her dirt debut. She won a Dec. 2 first-level sprint allowance race by six lengths, with jockey Shane Sellers merely along for the ride. The filly who was second that day, Lulu Wong, returned to win an Oaklawn Park allowance race as the heavy favorite last week.

Since win No. 2, the Stall barn’s focus has been on the Silverbulletday, one of six stakes race here at Fair Grounds on Saturday. At one mile 70 yards, and with a field likely lacking horses of Applauding’s raw ability, the Silverbulletday should provide an ideal distance test for Applauding. Her sire, Congrats, was a route horse himself, but his offspring have tended toward middle distances, and Applauding is out of a mare by Forestry, another speed influence. But to spend time with Applauding is to recognize that the filly will do everything she can to negotiate as much ground as genetics permit.

“I told Al just after she got down here, ‘This is a very pleasant horse,’ ” Stall assistant Pam Fitzgerald said. “She’s just very kind around the barn, in her stall, with everything she does.”

“She doesn’t go anywhere you don’t want her to go, do anything you don’t want her to do, and she doesn’t fight the bit,” Stall said.

Meanwhile, Stall said he won’t decide until entries are taken Wednesday whether to try the colt Seven Lively Sins in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes. Seven Lively Sins won a maiden race at Keeneland, before finishing a close second in the Iroquois on opening weekend of the Churchill fall meet. His fourth-place finish in the Delta Downs Jackpot is a throw-out, Stall said, since Seven Lively Sins hated the track surface there.

“I’m surprised he finished fourth,” Stall said. “He could have packed it in and gotten nothing.”

Flash Mash headed to Dubai after Pan Zareta

Flash Mash should be among the favorites Saturday for the Pan Zareta, a turf-sprint stakes for fillies and mares. And after that, she is off to see the world.

Trainer Mike Stidham said Flash Mash is scheduled to be shipped to Dubai sometime soon after the Pan Zareta. Plans are to race her at the Winter Carnival at Meydan in coming weeks, though Stidham will no longer train the filly.

“Her health paperwork is all in order,” Stidham said. “She’s ready to go.”

Flash Mash is owned by Prime Equestrian SARL, an operation that is based in France but also regularly races in Dubai.

Four-year-old Flash Mash showed talent from the start, winning her debut at Keeneland and a Fair Grounds allowance race by more than 10 lengths during fall 2010. Injury cost her much of 2011, but Flash Mash was second last fall at Keeneland while trying turf for the first time in her comeback race, and she has scored back-to-back sharp allowance-race victories in two starts during the Fair Grounds meet.

Stidham also has a horse for Saturday’s Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, and Hammer’s Terror – like the rest of what should be a large Lecomte field – is merely trying to prove he belongs in more important 3-year-old stakes upcoming later this winter. Hammer’s Terror won his maiden at second asking at Keeneland and was an early-meet winner of a Fair Grounds two-turn main-track allowance race, scoring by almost three lengths on Dec. 8.

Hammer’s Terror is by Artie Schiller, a turf horse, but appears to be capable on dirt.

“His dirt works continue to impress,” Stidham said. “But he has to step it up a notch Saturday, there’s no doubt about that.”