12/06/2011 3:44PM

Fair Grounds: Hammers Terror hard not to like


A 2-year-old trained by Mike Stidham as an odds-on favorite in a Fair Grounds dirt-route race with a short field: Haven’t we heard this one before?

As a matter of fact, yes.

The filly Lady Candidate raced in last Thursday’s first race, clearing the maiden ranks at odds of 7-10 with a geared-down, 4 1/2-length win under James Graham. If Lady Candidate looks like the Stidham stable’s top 2-year-old female prospect, Hammers Terror appears to be a Stidham-trained colt with which to be reckoned. And, like Lady Candidate, Hammers Terror will be heavily favored to win a two-turn, 2-year-old Fair Grounds race on a Thursday when he starts in the featured 8th.

Hammers Terror, owned by Terry Hamilton, already has cleared the maiden ranks, winning his second career start over the capable colt Atigun on Oct. 20 at Keeneland. Hammers Terror’s debut, on Sept. 24 at Keeneland, was just as good, though he was beaten a nose by a sharp Jim DiVito-trained 2-year-old named Luke of York.

Now come new experiences: Dirt, two turns, and other winners. Hammers Terror’s pedigree, by Artie Schiller and out of a Lord Avie mare, slants heavily toward grass and synthetics, but the colt’s morning works since shipping to Fair Grounds tell a different story. He has posted four drills dating to Nov. 8, two of them bullets, the other two the second-fastest at their respective distances. Who knows if Hammers Terror is something like a mile-and-a-quarter horse, but he has to negotiate only one mile 70 yards Thursday. And the competition does not look formidable.

The second choice in the race might be whichever Gennadi Dorochenko-trained part of a coupled entry (if not both) starts. Danger Storm has somehow squeezed 14 races into his 2-year-old season, winning one of them, and his stablemate Adena’s Chance looks better. Fourth last out in a Churchill Downs sprint race at this class level, Adena’s Chance might appreciate a switch to two-turn racing.

Also in the Thursday’s eighth are two debut winners, but neither of their wins matches up well with the conditions in this spot: M One scored a first-out victory going five furlongs on the Delta Downs bullring, while Whistle Included won by a nose over $12,500 maiden claimers at Churchill.

Hammers Terror it is, then.