Rain Helps City Fire to Easy Hilltop Victory

After nine fillies scratched out of the Hilltop Stakes when the race was switched from the soggy turf to the good main track, the lead was left to Michael Gill's City Fire. She promptly dashed to the front and never looked back, winning by three lengths in 1:44.30 for the 1-1/16 mile distance.

Under jockey Jeremy Rose for trainer Mark Shuman, City Fire broke alertly, relaxed down the backstretch, opened up on her rivals and drifted home clear. Impolite chased her every step of the way but could not gain at all. Apple Juice tried to mount a rally but never got closer than third. The winner paid $9.40.

Rose said, "I was surprised how quickly she came out of the gate and how easily she relaxed. I didn't want that other horse to get closer than three quarters of a length because I didn't know if she'd chuck the bit or not. She felt like she had enough to maintain the fractions we were going and when I called on her inside the quarter pole, she just spurted away. She showed a lot of heart after shipping up from down south."

"Mr. Gill and I were hoping the race would come off the turf," Shuman said. "With the rain we got lucky. We weren't planning to run her on the turf. We said, 'Let's go to the front and see what happens.' She seems a better horse relaxing on the lead and she ran a big race.

"Mr. Gill fell in love with this filly the first time he saw her as a 2-year-old in training in Miami. She didn't make her reserve so we bought her privately. I have to give him a lot of credit. Neither John Robb nor I were very excited about her but he insisted she was what he wanted in a racehorse. I guess he knows the horses pretty well."

The win was the fourth of the week for Shuman, who shattered the Gulfstream Park record for wins in a meet with 87.

(Chart, Equibase)