03/21/2010 11:00PM

Churchill stakes up next for Country Day


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Steve Margolis, who for months has regularly shipped in to race at Oaklawn from his Fair Grounds base, is going out a winner. He said Country Day, who took the $60,000 Hot Springs here Saturday, was likely his final starter this season at Oaklawn, with the horse probable to run next in a stakes at Churchill Downs.

The Hot Springs, which was a prep for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 9, was one of two stakes Margolis won this meet at Oaklawn. Overall, he went 5 for 13 with his local starters, a 38 percent win clip.

"It was a good meet," Margolis said. "Oaklawn was really good to us. It's a good option, maybe to have some there next year. We certainly plan on running there again next year."

Country Day turned in one of the best performances of his career in the Hot Springs. He pushed the pace set by multiple stakes winner Ez Dreamer, took over in the stretch, and went on to cover six furlongs in 1:09.40. For his first career stakes win, Country Day earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

"We don't really have any concrete plans with him right now," Margolis said. "He runs hard. He seems to do best with a month to six weeks between races. The Count Fleet is back in three weeks, and I don't want to overdo it."

Margolis said he and owners Richard, Bertram, and Elaine Klein will consider one of two stakes at Churchill for Country Day. He could go next in the Grade 3, $100,000 Churchill Downs Turf Sprint at five furlongs April 30 or the Grade 2, $250,000 Churchill Downs at seven furlongs May 1.

The Count Fleet did pick up a significant starter over the weekend. Trainer Bret Calhoun said Silver City shipped to Oaklawn from Fair Grounds on Saturday to begin preparations for the race. The horse won a third-level allowance earlier this month with a 101 Beyer. Calhoun also will be represented in the Count Fleet with recent Oaklawn allowance winner Chief of Affairs.

Riley Tucker, who was second in the Hot Springs with a 100 Beyer, will now be pointed to the Count Fleet, trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Hot Dixie Chick's plans undecided

Hot Dixie Chick, who dominated the $60,000 Prima Donna here Saturday in her first start since taking the Grade 1 Spinaway, is back at her Fair Grounds base and was a happy filly on Monday morning, Asmussen said.

"She came out of the race great," he said. "We're very excited about this year."

Hot Dixie Chick, who was an Eclipse Award finalist last year at 2, races for the Grace Stables operation of Barbara Banke. Asmussen said next-race plans will be determined after discussions with Banke and her husband, Jess Jackson.

Hot Dixie Chick is scheduled to ship to Churchill with Asmussen's stable. She put up the highest Beyer for a 2-year-old in 2009, when she earned a 103 for her win in the Grade 3 Schuylerville. Hot Dixie Chick showed her class again Saturday, when she was hooked on the front end and then drew off by more than five lengths in the Prima Donna.

"She's awesome," Asmussen said. "She's got a great demeanor and a tremendous amount of ability."

Dryfly has chip removed from knee

Dryfly, who won the $100,000 Smarty Jones here in January, was to have had surgery Monday to remove a bone chip from his left knee, trainer Lynn Whiting said. Dryfly came out of a ninth-place finish in last month's Grade 3 Southwest with the beginning of a stress fracture and it was initially thought the horse might not have to have surgery. But the slight separation of the bone led to the chip, Whiting said.

Dryfly was to have had surgery at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. He is a winner of 3 of 5 starts for Oaklawn president Charles Cella. While he is away, Follow the Leader is carrying the torch for Cella. He is the winningest horse of the meet, where he is 3 for 3. Whiting said Follow the Leader is currently being pointed to the $100,000 Fifth Season here April 8.