07/31/2001 11:00PM

Blinkered City Zip looking fine


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - City Zip has been a new horse with the addition of blinkers. Now, his connections hope City Zip can return to his old Saratoga form when he runs in Friday's $125,000 Amsterdam Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

City Zip made history last summer, becoming only the fourth horse to sweep Saratoga's trio of juvenile stakes - the Sanford, Saratoga Special, and Hopeful. After an unsuccessful attempt at stretching him out for the Triple Crown, trainer Linda Rice is now looking at the Breeders' Cup Sprint for City Zip. City Zip is the 123-pound highweight in the Amsterdam, meaning he will spot three to nine pounds to his seven rivals.

Thus far, City Zip has responded well since being cut back to six furlongs, taking the Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico and the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth. City Zip's streak has coincided with the addition of blinkers, which appear to have helped the horse focus while enabling his rider to place the horse where he wants.

"Prior to the blinkers, we had to discuss where we were going to be or where we wanted to be and how to handle his idiosyncrasies of not being close enough to the pace or being down inside,'' Rice said. "It appeared last year that every time he got covered up that he took himself out of it. With the addition of the blinkers I think we can put him anywhere.''

Jockey Jorge Chavez figures to put City Zip right into the race, where he could be on the lead or sit just off of Snow Ridge and/or Trailthefox, the other two speed horses in the field.

Like City Zip, Snow Ridge has responded to the addition of blinkers winning two races and finishing second twice. Snow Ridge, a son of Tabasco Cat, is coming off a second-level allowance win at Churchill Downs, and figures to flash speed from the outside post.

"That horse is improving a lot, he's a very fast horse, and he looks like a sprinter,'' trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "I think he's going to get better, he's not without some talent.''

Lukas has also entered Scorpion in the Amsterdam. However, he is also considering running Scorpion in Saturday's Grade 1 Jim Dandy.

Trailthefox, winner of the Arlington Washington Futurity as a 2-year-old, has been training brilliantly for Patrick Biancone since arriving in Saratoga in mid-July. He has been freshened since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Laz Barrera at Hollywood Park in May.

Speightstown has won three straight at Woodbine and picks up the services of Jerry Bailey. Catamaran, Fistfite, and Smile My Lord complete the field.

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