02/19/2009 1:00AM

Palanka City gets a rematch


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Terry Gestes hated being on the wrong side of the photo last month when Palanka City was edged by a head by Rated Fiesty in the $50,000 American Beauty at Oaklawn Park, but he appreciated the lively stretch battle between the two fillies.

"They both ran a hard race," he said. "You can't downgrade either one of them.

"That's racing."

Saturday, the rematch is on. Rated Fiesty and Palanka City both have landed in the $50,000 Spring Fever, a 5 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares. They figure to start as the top two choices, as both bring the field's best last-race Beyer Speed Figure, a 95, into the race. Palanka City drew post 3, while Rated Fiesty is in gate 6.

The draw would seem favorable to Rated Fiesty, while the weight spread under the allowance conditions of the race might benefit Palanka City. Even though most subscribe to the theory that weight is more of a factor around two turns, Palanka City, 115 pounds, will get a significant seven pounds from the diminutive Rated Fiesty, who will tote 122. In their last meeting, Palanka City carried 117 pounds to Rated Fiesty's 114.

Gestes said he is pleased with how Palanka City, a Grade 3 winner of $235,295, has trained since the American Beauty.

"It seems like everything is going forward for this race," he said.

Chris Emigh has the mount on Palanka City, a 4-year-old by Carson City who races for William Stiritz.

Luis Quinonez will ride Rated Fiesty, who was relentless in the lane to nab Palanka City on the wire in the American Beauty.

"She's all fight," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Rated Fiesty for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and JMJ Racing. "There's not much size to her, but she's all heart. She's very, very special."

Rated Fiesty defeated colts at 2 in the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup at Churchill in May 2007, then two months later won the track's Grade 3 Debutante. She is a 4-year-old by Exchange Rate.

Adding depth to the field are two new faces, the Bernie Flint-trained Solarana, who was third last out in the $50,000 Likely Exchange at Turfway Park, and Magnetic Miss, who worked a bullet three furlongs in 33.40 seconds in her final prep at Fair Grounds.