08/18/2016 6:46PM

Hot City Girl gets loose on lead in Union Avenue

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jose Ortiz collects one of his four wins on the card aboard Hot City Girl in the Union Avenue.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -  On paper, it certainly appeared Hot City Girl could have her hands full, at least during the early stages of Thursday’s $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes, with the speedy Court Dancer. But when the race began, and Court Dancer walked out of the gate a half dozen lengths behind the field, suddenly the complexion of the sprint stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares changed dramatically, leaving Hot City Girl loose on a lead she maintained throughout to register a 1 3/4-length decision over Quezon.

“That was a gift,” said Linda Rice, who trains Hot City Girl for Lady Sheila Stable. “When the four [Court Dancer] didn’t break, it certainly made it easier for us.”

Hot City Girl set quick fractions of 22.46 seconds, 45.17, and 1:08.67 for six furlongs under her red-hot jockey Jose Ortiz, and had plenty left to fend off a mild bid from Quezon when challenged in early stretch. It was another 7 1/2 lengths farther back to Dr. Fager’s Gal, followed by Hot House Rose, the unlucky Court Dancer, and Familyofroses.

Hot City Girl, a daughter of City Zip, completed 6 1/2furlongs in 1:15.03 and paid $4.30. The win was the fourth on the card for Ortiz.

“I was concerned about the four’s speed, obviously,” said Rice. “But we were on the outside. Jose and I talked about it. There was a chance we would need to sit second off the four. But obviously in her past performances, she’s won most of her races on the lead, so if we got the chance to be in front, that was Plan A.”

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Rice said Hot City Girl came into the Union Avenue much fitter than she was for her previous start, which resulted in a third-place finish as the 7-5 favorite in the Dancing Renee Stakes nearly seven weeks ago at Belmont Park.

“Last time I ran her a bit short,” said Rice. “We tried to make the race because I thought it would be a good prep for bigger and better things. It didn’t pan out as we liked, so we took a step back and had more time to get her ready for this.”