Hot Dixie Chick is Rachel Alexandra’s best friend; shares same paddock

“Hot Dixie Chick” sounds like it could be a Toby Keith single that the country singer could be telling the world about over your AM radio dial. But instead of being a high school flame of a none-too-settled football player, Hot Dixie Chick was an excellent thoroughbred sprinter for her owners, Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke.

When Jess Jackson was living, he wasn’t long retired from both his law firm and the everyday managing of his wine business.

He was never a man who had others do his thinking — or his acting — for him. So when he jumped into the thoroughbred industry, he went headlong into the deep end.

Not long after his decision to leave the legal profession and his vineyards to the business minds of those working for him, he had landed Hot Dixie Chick for $435,000 at a Fasig-Tipton Calder auction of two-year-olds in training.

It wasn’t too long before he had 300 thoroughbreds at his Stonestreet Farm. Among those horses-in-training grazing lazily in his paddocks were Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.

Hot Dixie Chick had piqued Jackson’s interest because of her family tree. She is the daughter of Dixie Union. And on Dixie Union’s side of that family tree are Dixieland Band, Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew, Mr. Prospector, Native Dancer, Raise A Native, Bald Eagle, and Nearco.

She is also the daughter of broodmare Above Perfection, whose lineage also includes Northern Dancer as well as Somethingroyal (mother of Secretariat), Princequillo, Nearctic, and Natalma.

Jackson placed the responsibility of training Hot Dixie Chick in the lap of Steve Asmussen. It was Asmussen who handled the care and feeding of Rachel Alexandra and Curlin.

Jackson’s wife, Barbara Banke, was just as interested in racing thoroughbreds and all it takes to do it as he was.

Banke’s interest would prove pivotal in keeping the farm viable when Jackson died at age 81 from a rare skin cancer. There was no dispersal sale of thoroughbreds like when industry giants Bill Young, Allen Paulson, and Bob Lewis passed away.

Banke called the stable “Grace” when she inherited it. “Grace” was an acronym for “Girls Rule And Competently Endure”.

Foaled in 2007, Hot Dixie Chick was brought by trainer Asmussen to the races for the first time on May 14, 2009 in madien special weight race at Churchill Downs. She finished second. A month later, she won a similar maiden race while setting the Churchill record for five furlongs with her time of 56.48.

Asmussen had her step on up the competition staircase when he sent her to the Grade III Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga. She crushed the field by more than six lengths. Said Asmussen: “Today, she was very professional and maintained her margin to the wire. Obviously, today she reached a new level. She’s got a mind that’s spooky. She’s extremely laid back. She was lying down in the holding barn. Her demeanor is why she’s stabled next to Rachel Alexandra. You can’t have a better demeanor than that.”

Her final race as a spunky two-year-old was in the Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga. In winning for the third straight time, she ran the seven-furlong distance in 1:22.28.

After showing winning form in two graded stakes to close out his first season at racing, Hot Dixie Chick was given a six-month rest period before being brought back in March, 2010 to the Prima Donna Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

Her jockey had always been Robbie Albarado. And he was aboard again as she swept to her fourth consecutive win at the six-furlong distance.

Brought to Churchill Downs a few weeks in front of the fabled Kentucky Derby, she was being readied for the 7.5 furlong, Grade III Eight Belles Stakes on the undercard of the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

The modest win streak was stopped by Buckleupbuttercup. Hot Dixie Chick was third, also beaten by Visavis.

Still at Churchill Downs, she had another third-place in the Grade III Winning Colors at six furlongs.

After seven career races, her record showed four wins, a second, and a pair of third-place finishes in her last two tries. Her earning amounted to $343,252.

When she was retired from competitive racing, Hot Dixie Chick was bred to Curlin and placed in the same paddock as Rachel Alexandra, also in foal to Curlin.

Barbara Banke had the idea to place the two together. “They are the best of buddies. It’s amazing how they get along. They’re never more than six feet away from one another.”

Hot Dixie Chick gave birth to a colt in early February of this year. Rachel Alexandra gave birth to a colt a little later this year.

Both broodmares are again foal, neither to Curlin this time.

This particular Hot Dixie Chick was not a high school heartbreaker known to singer Toby Keith. She was a comet on the two-year-old thoroughbred scene back in 2009. She flashed across the sky and quickly became a graded stakes winner . . . before taking her place as a promising broodmare at Barbara Banke’s Grace Stables.

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