01/19/2012 4:52PM

Tampa Bay: Hot Summer tops Manatee field

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OLDSMAR, Fla. – Hot Summer, whose two wins last season both came against Grade 3 competition, makes her first start as a 4-year-old Saturday when she tops a field of nine fillies and mares in the $50,000 Manatee Stakes at seven furlongs.

Hot Summer, trained by David Fawkes, made six starts last season, all in stakes. After finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, Hot Summer moved to Aqueductm where she closed from just off the pace to win the Grade 3 Comely at a mile and 70 yards by 2 1/2 lengths.

After a third-place finish behind eventual Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, Hot Summer turned back to a sprint in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga and showed her versatility by coming from next to last to post an upset win.

The Manatee will be Hot Summer’s first start since she finished eighth over Polytrack at Keeneland in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes.

Promised Mandate is one of five locally based females in the Manatee, and her trainer, Manny Criollo, admits he was glad to look at the overnight and not see the brilliantly fast It’s Me Mom among those entered in the Manatee

It’s Me Mom is “a freak,” he said with a chuckle. “I chased her twice here, and I like my chances a lot better without having to deal with her again.”

Promised Mandate has a pair of wins and four seconds in races at Tampa and her trainer says she really enjoys training over the local surface.

“I would say she likes this track as much as any she’s trained over,” Criollo said, “I probably shouldn’t have run her last time out. She had a little hoof problem, but we’ve got that fixed and she’s 100 percent now. As for the seven furlongs, I think that distance might be her best. It gives her time to get position without being used up.”

In a race that isn’t overloaded with speed, the horse to catch might well be Canadian Mistress, who comes into the Manatee off a front-running win over optional claiming sprinters at the Fair Grounds in a race that was moved from the turf to the main track. Larry Jones trained the filly last season, but she has since been moved to the barn of Marty Wolfson.

Island Bound, who posted a six-length win at the Manatee distance here last start, and Yournotthebossofme, who ran third behind It’s Me Mom in the Minaret, also deserve a look.