12/27/2011 4:28PM

Fair Grounds: Flash Mash coming off a blowout win


The most difficult part of the 3-year-old filly Flash Mash’s start on Dec. 2 at Fair Grounds had nothing to do with the actual running of the race. Flash Mash did her best deer-in-headlights impersonation while being saddled in the paddock, then froze again after coming onto the track for the post parade. Briefly breaking free from her handlers, Flash Mash had to be led down the track and into the warm-up period by her trainer, Mike Stidham.

“I had to be the pony for a minute,” Stidham cracked.

Flash Mash proved to be worth the extra effort. Making her second start on grass and second race after an extended layoff, she won a second-level turf-sprint allowance race by almost three lengths, and though hand-ridden to the finish by Robby Albarado, Flash Mash ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.55, one of the fastest turf-sprint clockings in recent Fair Grounds seasons.

“She’d done something like that once before in the morning, but she really took us by surprise,” Stidham said. “It sure didn’t hurt her performance, because she went out and ran like a freak.”

Flash Mash swings back into action in the featured ninth race Thursday at Fair Grounds, a third-level turf-sprint allowance also open to $62,500 claimers. And while Flash Mash is taking a step up the allowance ladder, she does not meet an especially imposing group of rivals and figures to be strongly favored.

Flash Mash, a 3-year-old daughter of Smarty Jones owned by the France-based partnership Prime Equestrian, turned in a career-best performance in the recent Fair Grounds blowout, but she has come back with two snappy morning workouts, and Stidham doesn’t see the filly as being susceptible to a bounce.

“Mentally, she can be a little fragile, but soundness-wise and physically she looks great and is doing great,” he said. “Her [female] family gave strong notice that turf was going to be her preferred surface, and that’s proving to be the case.”

On paper, the only horse who can get close to Flash Mash is Well Deserved, a 4-year-old filly who has moved into the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen following a seventh-place finish in the Dec.3 Lightning City Stakes, a turf sprint at Tampa Bay Downs. Well Deserved cleared her second-level allowance condition this past fall in a Keeneland turf sprint, but beat only six rivals that day and has pacesetting tendencies that rarely prove effective on a Fair Grounds grass course over which Well Deserved makes her first start.