08/02/2001 11:00PM

City Zip shows courage in Amsterdam win

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. City Zip, who swept last year's trio of 2-year-old stakes at Saratoga, continued his love affair with this track on Friday by earning a courageous victory in the Grade 2, $135,700 Amsterdam Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

After a grueling stretch drive, City Zip held off Speightstown to win by one length, with late-running Smile My Lord another length back in third.

City Zip covered six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:11.03. He paid $3 to win as the 1-2 favorite of the 21,106 who attended on a steamy afternoon.

City Zip's best efforts have come when he sits just off the pace and makes one run, but he had an inside post position in the Amsterdam. With plenty of speed horses drawn outside of him, including those ridden by Jerry Bailey and Pat Day, trainer Linda Rice was concerned that City Zip would be the focus of their attention. So she gave jockey Jorge Chavez the option to use City Zip early to avoid getting trapped.

The plan nearly backfired. City Zip flashed blazing speed, but ended up caught in a torrid duel with Speightstown (Bailey) and Snow Ridge (Day). They sped through fractions of 21.69 seconds for the opening quarter and 44.86 for the half-mile. At the top of the stretch, City Zip took a solid bump from Speightstown.

But City Zip showed tremendous desire to prevail. Obviously spent from the early fractions, City Zip fought off Speightstown, and was actually drawing away in the final yards. Smile My Lord, who benefited from the hot pace, could make no significant impact in the final yards.

"He's a hard horse to intimidate," Rice said. "They were all leg weary, but he has the will to win."

City Zip, a colt by Carson City out of the Relaunch mare Baby Zip, has now won 8 of 18 starts. He is owned by a partnership headed by Carl Bowling, who led City Zip into the winner's circle. Rice said City Zip would make his next start in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes on Aug. 25.