11/30/2010 3:58PM

Flash Mash shows stakes potential


Racing this past Saturday opened a window onto the 3-year-old class of 2011, with Aqueduct hosting the Remsen and Demoiselle for 2-year-olds, and Churchill’s all-juvenile program topped by the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod stakes. The 2-year-old race of note at Fair Grounds on Saturday was a short-field, entry-level allowance, but it might have provided a peek at a future stakes horse.

Flash Mash beat just three rivals, and her win odds of 3-10 suggest (correctly) that those three had little chance, but Flash Mash drew off to win her race by more than 10 lengths, running her career record to 2 for 2 and demonstrating that the promise she showed over Keeneland’s Polytrack last month would translate to dirt. Flash Mash was timed in 1:10.84 for six furlongs, which produced a Beyer Speed Figure of 85.

That came as no surprise to Mike Stidham, who trains Flash Mash for Prime Equestrian S.A.R.L., and who had gotten favorable morning reports on the filly from assistant trainer Hilary Pridham.

“Hilary had worked her three times on dirt, and every time she kept giving me a big thumbs up,” Stidham said. “I know she didn’t run against much, but time-wise she ran fast, and all the rider did was shake the reins at her. She came out of the race great, and the next hurdle is two turns. We think she’ll do that, too.”

Flash Mash, a $180,000 Keeneland 2-year-old sales purchase, is by Smarty Jones and out of the Miswaki mare Magical Flash. And while the filly is quick, her pedigree contains some stamina influences. Flash Mash will be nominated to the Dec. 18 Letellier Memorial Stakes, but “most likely” will make her next start in the two-turn Tiffany Lass on Jan. 22, Stidham said.

Stidham’s barn has other stakes horses in the hopper, as well. Arriving at Fair Grounds this week after a period of farm rest were multiple turf stakes winner Workin for Hops, and Upperline, who was disqualified because of a medication positive from a win in the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks. Multiple sprint-stakes winner Comedero still is on holiday, as is Willcox Inn, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and in the Breeders’ Futurity over Keeneland Polytrack.

Block sending in two after ‘vacation’

Dundalk Dust, who won the Grade 2 Falls City on Thursday at Churchill Downs, and Giant Oak, who won the Grade 1 Clark there on Friday, both are scheduled to ship to Fair Grounds after 30 to 45 days on a Florida farm, but it’s unlikely that either horse will actually start in New Orleans, trainer Chris Block said.

The two horses will get a short “working vacation,” as Block described it, at Graceful Oaks Farm near Ocala. “They’ll stay in light training. I don’t want to stop totally on either one of them,” said Block.

Giant Oak, elevated to victory in the Clark by the disqualification of Successful Dan, has made four starts in New Orleans the last two seasons, but never has run especially well over the Fair Grounds main track. Third in the Mineshaft Handicap earlier this year, Giant Oak finished fifth in the 2010 New Orleans Handicap, running below the form he has displayed on other dirt tracks.

“I’m not sure how much he likes the track there,” Block said. “We’re maybe looking at Oaklawn Park as a starting point for him.”

Dundalk Dust rallied from far behind the early leaders on a sloppy Churchill track to easily capture the Falls City, running her dirt record to 2 for 2. With softness in the older-female dirt-route division, Dundalk Dust could wind up being competitive in a race like the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in the spring.

“Oaklawn really looks like the best spot for fillies,” said Block. “We’ll send her to Fair Grounds to train for a while.”

Block does not train horses at Fair Grounds, and, as has been the case the last two winters, Giant Oak will move to the barn of Neil Pessin. Block said he hadn’t decided with whom Dundalk Dust would stable when she comes to New Orleans, but Block-trained horses also have been trained at Fair Grounds by Richie Scherer.

In fact, horses based with Block in Chicago this summer won both divisions of a split maiden turf race for 2-year-olds on Sunday. Mavericking, a Team Block homebred trained by Pessin, was especially sharp, capturing his turf debut by more than three lengths. He ran about four lengths faster than Suntracer, another Team Block homebred, who won his maiden by almost four lengths for Scherer.