Rachel Alexandra will steal all the headlines, but she won’t be the only heavily-backed filly Steve Asmussen sends out in a grade I race this weekend at Saratoga. The nation’s leading trainer also has Grace Stables’ Hot Dixie Chick going in the $300,000 Spinaway (gr. I) on Sept. 6, and the daughter of Dixie Union figures to receive much of the attention at the windows.
A runaway winner of the Schuylerville (gr. III) July 29 at the Spa, Hot Dixie Chick leads a field of nine juvenile fillies in the seven-furlong Spinaway. Post time is set for 5:56 p.m. EDT.
A $435,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale in February, Hot Dixie Chick showed her worth when breaking her maiden at second asking by 5 3/4 lengths June 13 at Churchill Downs, setting a five-furlong track record (:56.48) in the process. She came back in the six-furlong Schuylerville and was just as impressive, drawing off for a 6 1/4-length score under Robby Albarado. The dark bay or brown filly figures tough to catch again this weekend.
“Dixie has just been special from the beginning,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen. “She broke the track record at Churchill Downs and won here authoritatively. She hasn’t missed a work, and we’re going into the race well-prepared with a fast horse.”
Albarado will retain the mount on Hot Dixie Chick, the 4-5 morning-line favorite who was bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners and is out of the In Excess mare Above Perfection. They drew the inside post, which makes it more likely that she will be part of the early pace.
Ken McPeek is hoping his filly, Beautician, will improve off her runner-up finish in the Schuylerville, which was the second start of her young career. The Dehere filly broke her maiden by two lengths June 5 at Churchill. The gray or roan filly turned in a sharp five furlong work in 1:00.42 Aug. 28 at Saratoga, giving McPeek reason to hope his charge will close the gap on Hot Dixie Chick.
Kent Desormeaux will be in the irons once again on Beautician, who is owned by Peter Callahan.
Klaravich Stables and W.H. Lawrence’s Worstcasescenario won the other major event for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga, romping by 4 1/4 lengths in the Aug. 19 Adirondack (gr. II) to remain unbeaten in two starts. Trained by Rick Violette Jr., the Florida-bred daughter of Forbidden Apple easily broke her maiden July 24 at Belmont Park. Alan Garcia will be in the irons again if she goes. Violette has indicated that Worstcasescenario could be scratched.
Violette also entered Broadway Blue Stables’ Opus A, a New York-bred daughter of Read the Footnotes who broke her maiden Aug.10 in New York.
"It’s a small field, and Opus A is doing scary good,” said Violette of the filly, 15-1 on the morning line. "She breezes as good as the colts. When horses are doing this well, they can improve dramatically. With her, there’s not a lot of pressure. It’s a grade I, and if we can be third, that would be great.
Also coming out of the Adirondack is the runner-up, Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image, who stalked the pace and finished well under Edgar Prado. She broke her maiden impressively in June at Churchill, rolling by more than five lengths. Prado will stay aboard for Romans.
$300,000 Spinaway (gr. I, Race 10, 5:56 p.m.), 2YO Fillies, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Hot Dixie Chick (KY), R Albarado, 119, S M Asmussen
2. Sky Fever (NY), V L Espinoza, 119, J Ortiz
3. Opus A (NY), S Bridgmohan, 119, R A Violette, Jr.
4. Bickersons (ON), J R Velazquez, 119, K J Breen
5. Sassy Image (KY), E S Prado, 119, D L Romans
6. Beautician (KY), K J Desormeaux, 119, K G McPeek
7. Worstcasescenario (FL), A Garcia, 119, R A Violette, Jr.
8. Magic Appeal (KY), C H Velasquez, 119, S M Hough
9. Snap Happy (KY), C H Borel, 119, D Stewart