Favored Hot Dixie Chick showed she was more than a speed freak in the $111,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III), rating patiently just off the pace before grabbing the lead and then pulling away to a 6 1/4-length victory July 29 (VIDEO), the opening day of the Saratoga meeting in upstate New York.
Second choice Beautician rallied to finish second, 6 3/4 lengths in front of Cowgirl Mally. Stormandaprayer, who set the early pace of :22.02 and :45.50, faded to fourth in the field of nine 2-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, Hot Dixie Chick covered six furlongs in 1:10.18 over a track that was rated as “good” on a rainy day at Saratoga. It was the second consecutive Schuylerville win for Albarado and Hot Dixie Chick’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, who had teamed to take the 2008 edition of the race with Jardin during another wet afternoon of racing.
“I had a great trip, actually,” said Albarado, who has been aboard Hot Dixie Chick in all three of her career races. “She broke really well, put herself forwardly placed, which I anticipated, and she rated nicely. She’s a nice filly, very smart.”
Owned by Grace Stables, Hot Dixie Chick opened her campaign at Churchill Downs May 14, finishing second by a half-length in a five-furlong maiden-special-weight event over a sloppy track. The winner that day was Decelerator, who was a well-beaten sixth in the Schuylerville. Nearly a month later, Hot Dixie Chick rebounded from that defeat and broke her maiden by 5 ¾ lengths while setting a five-furlong track record at Churchill of :56.48.
“She was running so fast the last time, it was good to see Robby have the confidence to let that other filly (Stormandaprayer) go,” Asmussen said. “She broke well, and he took her in hand. We had high hopes coming off what she did last time, but I needed to see her do it.”
A dark bay or brown daughter of Dixie Union, Hot Dixie Chick was bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners. Gerry Dilger’s Dromoland Farm, agent, consigned the filly to the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction, where W.K. Warren Jr. purchased her for $340,000. Earlier this year, Grace Stables bought Hot Dixie Chick for $435,000 from Niall Brennan Stables, agent, at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Barbara Banke, who operates Grace Stables, is the wife of wine mogul Jess Jackson. In the name of Stonestreet Stables, they race this year’s BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra in partnership with Harold McCormick.
‘We’ll check with Barbara,” said Asmussen of Hot Dixie Chick’s next race. “If we come out this race well, the Spinaway (gr. I, Sept. 6) will be a target for her.”
Hot Dixie Chick, who is out of the grade III-winning In Excess mare Above Perfection, paid $5.30, $3.70, and $2.90 to her backers. Beautician returned $4.60 and $3.40, and Cowgirl Mally paid $4.40.
"She was handy and had a winning move around the far turn, but Hot Dixie Chick was just too good today," said Beautician's jockey, Kent Desormeaux. "When I let my horse go, I thought I was sitting on a winner. At the quarter pole, I thought we had her, but Hot Dixie Chick had too much left."