03/18/2010 11:00PM

Hot Dixie Chick back in action

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Hot Dixie Chick was an Eclipse Award finalist last year following a season in which she won the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. Her place in the 3-year-old filly division will begin to be determined Saturday, when she makes her highly anticipated season debut in the $60,000 Prima Donna at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Hot Dixie Chick quickly established herself as one of the top 2-year-old fillies of 2009, when she won her maiden at Churchill Downs in her second career start with a Beyer Figure of 100. She then hit Saratoga and took down a pair of graded stakes, including the Grade 3 Schuylerville on July 29. Hot Dixie Chick earned a 103 Beyer, the best by a 2-year-old male or female in 2009.

From there, Hot Dixie Chick cruised in the Spinaway on Sept. 6, winning the seven-furlong race by 1 3/4 lengths over future Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Beautician. Asmussen said Hot Dixie Chick didn't race after the Spinaway because the decision was made to pass on the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. Hot Dixie Chick has only raced on dirt.

"With the Breeders' Cup run in California on a synthetic surface, we weren't going to do that," he said.

Hot Dixie Chick has been working at Fair Grounds for her return. She had been targeting a comeback race at her New Orleans base, but when the race did not fill she came under consideration for the Prima Donna.

"It's time for her to get going," Asmussen said. "It's time for her to run."

The Prima Donna, which is for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, is to serve as a springboard to two turns for Hot Dixie Chick.

"I think we're going to give her that option," said Asmussen.

Robby Albarado, the regular rider on Hot Dixie Chick, will be aboard in one of 11 mounts he has on the card Saturday for Asmussen, who is the leading trainer at Oaklawn.

Hot Dixie Chick could get a nice tracking trip behind Biorra, who faced males last out in the $60,000 Mountain Valley, and Cosmo Girl, who set the pace in the $75,000 Martha Washington. The field is rounded out by Brown Eyed Girl, Woman Soldier, and Drewman Prince.

The Prima Donna will share a card with the $60,000 Hot Springs.