- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
On Fire Baby to aim for Honeybee
Dual Grade 2-winning filly On Fire Baby will be pointed toward the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park on March 10 as trainer Gary 'Red Dog' Hartlage seeks the best schedule to get the talented three-year-old to peak at Churchill Downs in the first week of May.
"It's all about the best road for getting to Louisville," Hartlage said. "I have no problem waiting a few more weeks with the way she's been training if this puts on that road."
On Fire Baby was considered for races this month after finishing third against males in the Smarty Jones on January 16. She was among six fillies nominated to the Triple Crown and another start against males in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest on February 20 was one option, but after consulting with owner Anita Cauley, Hartlage is preparing to keep as many options open next month rather than potentially closing doors at this point.
"She was nominated (to the Triple Crown) because she clearly has the talent," Hartlage said. "The Honeybee will be about seven weeks between starts. She should run well and we can see what we want to do with (that option) then."
The hardest part for Hartlage may be keeping a lid on the daughter of Smoke Glacken for another month. Her latest workout on Monday was a bullet five-furlong breeze in :59 4/5 under regular jockey Joe Johnson.
On Fire Baby won the Grade 2 Pocahontas and the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill last fall, signaling her as one of the top fillies in the country. Hartlage is no stranger to bringing top-class fillies along at Oaklawn. He trained her half-sister High Heels to win the Garde 2 Fantasy Stakes in 2007 and another half-sister, French Kiss, to win the Pippin in 2009.
The Honeybee is at 1 1/16 miles and falls 32 days before the Grade 2 Fantasy at the same distance.