Hot Dixie Chick will try to stretch her win streak to five races when she takes on six rivals in the $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III) on the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) undercard May 1 at Churchill Downs.
The talented bay daughter of Dixie Union made a dazzling 2010 debut March 20 at Oaklawn Park, cruising to a 5 3/4-length victory as the 1-5 favorite in the Prima Donna Stakes. After battling Cosmo Girl for the lead early, Hot Dixie Chick accelerated entering the stretch and pulled away under a hand ride from Robby Albarado while driving to the wire.
The 7 1/2-furlong Eight Belles for 3-year-old fillies will be the sixth race of Hot Dixie Chick’s career. Last May, she finished second in a maiden-special-weight event at Churchill and then broke her maiden at five furlongs while setting a record for the Kentucky track of :56.48. She completed her 2009 campaign by reeling off other wins in the Schuylerville (gr. III) and Spinaway (gr. I) Stakes at Saratoga.
Hot Dixie Chick was weighted at 121 pounds on the 2009 Experimental Free Handicap, only two pounds below the co-top-weighted fillies Blind Luck, who is the morning line favorite for the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill, and champion She Be Wild.
Albarado, who has ridden Hot Dixie Chick in all of her races, will be back on board for the Eight Belles.
Barbara Banke’s Grace Stables owns Hot Dixie Chick, and the filly is trained by Steve Asmussen. Banke is the wife of wine mogul Jess Jackson whose Stonestreet Stables races 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in partnership with Harold McCormick. Rachel Alexandra, also conditioned by Asmussen, is scheduled to run in the La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) April 30 at Churchill.
Hot Dixie Chick’s most accomplished challenger in the Eight Belles is Decelerator, winner of the Debutante Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill in 2009 and the Martha Washington and Instant Racing Stakes at Oaklawn this year. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will saddle the daughter of Dehere for Westrock Stables.
Other Eight Belles entrants include Bell’s Shoes, who finished third in both the Martha Washington and the Instant Racing; Sister Resistor, who was third in the 2009 Top Flight Stakes at Arlington Park; and Visavis, who ran second in the 2009 Letellier Memorial Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
The Eight Belles is named for the 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up, who was euthanized following the finish of the classic because of injuries.
$100,000 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III, Race 6, 1:19 p.m. EDT), Fillies 3 Years Old, 7 ½ Furlongs (Dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Buckleupbuttercup, J.R. Leparoux, 118, E. Kenneally
2. Hot Dixie Chick, R. Albarado, 122, S.M. Asmussen
3. Bell’s Shoes, C.H. Borel, 116, W.H. Fires
4. Decelerator, T.J. Thompson, 120, D.W. Lukas
5. Sister Resistor, R. Bejarano, 116, R.E. Dutrow Jr.
6. Kantstopdancin, T. Farina, 116, W.E. Hall
7. Visavis, S. Bridgmohan, 116, S. Margolis