01/15/2010 12:00AM

Stidham makes plans for stakes talent


Trainer Mike Stidham is firming up plans for his old and new talent - the graded stakes winner Tizaqueena and the 3-year-old Workin for Hops.

Off since finishing 10th in the Las Palmas Handicap on the Breeders Cup' undercard last November, Tizaqueena is being pointed toward the Marie Krantz Memorial Handicap here on Jan. 30, Stidham said.

Tizaqueena worked five furlongs Wednesday in 1:01.80, the eighth fastest of 70 at the distance.

"She is training nicely," said Stidham. "The Marie Krantz is a good spot for her first race back."

Tizaqueena, now 5, will use the race as the beginning of a spring campaign that will prepare her for a defense of her crown in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. The Distaff Turf Mile was the highlight of an impressive 4-year-old campaign for Tizaqueena. She finished in the money in five of seven stakes races in 2009, including a second-pace finish in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland.

Also on Wednesday, Workin for Hops, one of Stidham's rising stars, worked the same five furlongs in 1:04.40.

While Stidham was pleased with the way Workin for Hops finished, he thought the work confirmed Workin for Hops's preference for the turf.

"The track was still pretty loose and cuppy," said Stidham. "He didn't love it."

Workin for Hops scored impressively on Dec. 28 with a 4 1/2-length victory over the well-regarded Mountain Justice. In three starts, all over the Fair Grounds turf, Workin for Hops now has two wins and a second.

"We feel like the turf is his future," said Stidham, "So I think we are going to go in the Black Gold," a turf race scheduled for Feb. 6.

Rachel continues two-mile routine

Trainer Steve Asmussen is pleased with Rachel Alexandra's continuing progress as she has reestablished her routine of jogging a mile and then galloping a mile here.

After losing days due to a frozen track, Rachel has been able to get her daily two-mile conditioning under her exercise rider Dominic Terry.

"She's doing great," said Asmussen. "Just getting anxious for Monday," when the Eclipse Awards will be announced.

While at the Eclipse Awards in California, Asmussen indicated he would get the chance to talk face to face with the ownership team of Friesan Fire, and decide on the first step of his 4-year-old campaign.

"I am going to meet with Rick Porter and Tom Ludt, and we'll decide what to do then," said Asmussen. "He worked really good this week."

Friesan Fire had been pointed toward the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 6, but is also under consideration for next Saturday's Louisiana Handicap.

Good and Lucky remains sharp

With six stakes scheduled for Saturday, the Fair Grounds gets into the meat of its season, highlighted by the Lecomte, which begins the road to the March 27 Louisiana Derby.

If Friesan Fire does run in the Louisiana Handicap, he will find his recent foe Good and Lucky waiting for him.

Good and Lucky defeated Friesan Fire in an allowance race on Dec. 3, and followed that up with a victory in the Tenacious Handicap on Dec. 20.

Good and Lucky has 6 wins from 10 starts locally, and has shown a clear preference for the Fair Grounds.

Good and Lucky worked five furlongs on Wednesday in 1:01.40, the fourth fastest of 70.

"He worked wonderful, and he's training well," said Ruth Schmidt, assistant trainer to Josie Carroll. "He's doing great, he loves it here."

* The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry lifted a quarantine imposed on 43 horses at the Evangeline Training Center in Carencro earlier this week. The quarantine was put in place after a single horse tested positive for equine herpes. It was lifted when no other horses in the barn showed any sign of contracting the herpes virus.