12/09/2011 5:32PM

Fair Grounds: Hammers Terror looks stakes-worthy

Lou Hodges Jr.
Hammers Terror, with James Graham riding, wins an allowance in his first race on dirt and around two turns.

As fast as trainer Al Stall came blazing out of the gate opening week at Fair Grounds, he entered Friday’s races in New Orleans only tied atop the trainer standings, Mike Stidham having caught up with a couple of winners on Thursday’s card. One was Hammers Terror, a 2-year-old colt who earned a spot in the Jan. 26 Lecomte Stakes with a 2 3/4-length victory in a first-level allowance race.

Hammers Terror had won his maiden on Polytrack at Keeneland and never had raced two turns, so he cleared two hurdles – dirt and routes – in the same race Thursday.

“I think he did everything I hoped he would do,” Stidham said Friday. “Looked like the second-place horse was kind of getting too him a little bit late, but I think he’s the type who might be a little immature mentally. I think if a horse comes to him he’ll have something to give.”

Hammers Terror earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 73 for his victory. By Artie Schiller and out of a Lord Avie Mare, the colt is bred for turf, but has done well since moving to the Fair Grounds dirt.

“The only thing I can go on is that every work has been excellent,” Stidham said. “He’s taken dirt and still was able to go inside horses with no problem. And then he passed the test yesterday.”

It’s possible Stidham could have a starter in the Lecomte’s sister race, the Silverbulletday Stakes. Two-year-old filly Lady Candidate was an easy two-turn dirt winner on Dec. 1, and could race her way into the Silverbulletday if she performs well in an entry-level allowance race scheduled for later this month.

Another Stidham-trained 2-year-old filly winner, Table Three Ten, has been sold to the Team Valor Stable and leaves Monday to take up residence with trainer Graham Motion, Stidham said. Table Three Ten, an El Prado filly, made her career debut in a dirt sprint Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds and drew away for a 5 1/4-length victory.

Even with Table Three Ten out of the picture, Stidham is well stocked with young horses right now, and that’s been a major reason for his early-meet surge, he said.

“The bottom line is to start like we have things have to fall in place, races have to go,” he said. “Really, we felt good coming in because we had all these 2-year-olds at the beginning at the summer that normally we would have run, but they were just later developing. This meet we felt we’d be strong with young horses.”

Feature a toss-up

A field of seven is entered in Sunday’s featured seventh race, a second-level turf-sprint allowance also open to $40,000 claimers, and the paucity of starters is accompanied by a lack of clear contenders.

The field includes Grade 1 winner J.B.’s Thunder, who won the Breeders’ Futurity in October 2010, but hasn’t won since. He faded to sixth after contesting the pace in the Woodchopper Stakes on Nov. 25, and races one turn for the first time in his career on Sunday.

Goldzar finished eighth in the Thanksgiving Handicap, but that was a dirt race, and Goldzar’s better form has come on turf and synthetic. He was a close fourth in the 2010 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds, a performance that would make him a win threat Sunday.

Zeb also ran well on the course last Fair Grounds season, scoring back-to-back wins in a $30,000 maiden-claimer and an entry-level allowance race.