The following piece appeared at theracingbiz.com and was written by Frank Vespe. Since this piece was originally written, trainer Michael Stidham — who was leading trainer at Colonial Downs in 2019 and 2020 — won the $12 million Dubai World Cup March 27 with Mystic Guide! The “Off to the Races” radio show, sponsored by The Racing Biz, can be heard every Saturday from 10-11 AM via ESPN Radio in Richmond (950AM) and at theracingbiz.com. The summer racing season at Colonial Downs begins July 19 and runs through September 1 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM.
We’re still months away from the 2021 Colonial Downs race meet, but one thing we know is that trainer Mike Stidham, the leading trainer at the “new” Colonial, is planning to race there.
In 2019, the first year of the new Colonial, Stidham won 10 races to tie Jamie Ness for the meet lead, and he was the track’s earnings leader. Last year, he was off to a fast start with six wins, again leading the colony, when the meet had to be canceled after leading rider Trevor McCarthy and several other people tested positive for Covid-19.
“It was a big disappointment,” Stidham said. “We were stacked up with several stake horses and a lot of runners for that meet.”
All told, Stidham has won with 16 of his 42 Colonial starters – 38% — and won four stakes. In 2019 Stidham trainees Embolden, Doc Boy, and Carnival Colors won the Jamestown Stakes, Kitten’s Joy Stakes, and Virginia Oaks, respectively.
In 2020, he sent out first-time starter Guillaume to win the Hansel Stakes.
So it makes sense that, despite the disappointing end to his 2020 New Kent sojourn, Stidham would still think well of Colonial.
“We will definitely be back there this year,” he said Saturday.
Stidham spoke hours before he sent out a trio of runners in Grade 2 stakes at his winter base of the Fair Grounds. Those included turf runner Pixelate in the Muniz Memorial, new-to-his-barn Roadster in the New Orleans Classic, and Kentucky Derby hopeful Proxy in the Louisiana Derby. All three finished fourth.
Whether any of those three from Stidham’s high-powered barn will be part of his 2021 Colonial Downs string remains to be seen. But Stidham is clearly expecting to be a major player at the meet, which kicks off July 19.
“We will definitely be represented in several stakes, and we will have lots of ru