08/02/2006 11:00PM

Hot and Cold merits shot at stretch-out

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Hot and Cold, the 4-year-old filly who finished third in the two-furlong, $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes on Calder's Extreme Day card two weeks ago, heads the five-furlong Fort Erie Slots Cup on Saturday.

Scheduled for the turf, the Slots Cup, for fillies and mares, is the first of 20 Cup races on the Fort Erie calendar.

The Cup races all have $30,000 purses, which makes them ineligible for black type. Except when a Cup race is for 2-year-olds, they are restricted to runners that have had at least three starts at the meet. The races for juveniles require two starts.

Hot and Cold had won her last two starts before the Calder race, both at Fort Erie and at two furlongs. Before that, she had a second and a third among her other three 2006 races.

"She was a little unfit the first time she ran this year," said trainer Campbell Wilson, about Hot and Cold's fourth-place finish in her season debut. "And in her second race, she just got beat by a better horse."

Wilson isn't keen about running her at five furlongs, but he pointed out that Fort Erie has been struggling to fill races at two furlongs.

"Because she's been running and training so good, we decided to give her a shot," he said.

The best turf record in the field of 10, plus one also-eligible, belongs to 6-year-old Lindsey's Dove. The mare has won six of her 13 turf starts at the Fort, but is winless in four starts this year.

Lindsey's Dove finished second in a $20,000 claimer on June 3. A month later, at the same level, she finished sixth. The following week she was dropped in for $5,000 and again finished sixth.

Trainer Daryl Ezra, who doubles as Fort Erie's track announcer, claimed Lindsey's Dove from her last start. It was Ezra's fourth claim of the year.

Two earlier claims by Ezra this meet, Jet Engine and Inspired Dancer, ran back and finished second. His latest acquisition, on July 18, was Grab the Cat. A $5,000 claim, Grab the Cat won on Monday for an $18,000 tag. The winning margin was 6 3/4 lengths.

"I always liked this horse," said Ezra, of Lindsey's Dove. "At that price, I took a shot, even though there are not enough opportunities for grass horses here. There's just one race a day on it if it doesn't rain. And if there is a stakes on grass, there's no turf the day before."

Monique Dionne, who was aboard for all of Lindsey's Dove's turf wins, will ride again. Blinkers are off.

Only two other runners in the field have won races on the turf - Glory Run once, and Decadent Dash twice.