Racing News

On Fire Baby seeks sweet score in Honeybee

  • On Fire Baby (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

On Fire Baby will return to the distaff ranks on Saturday when she faces seven rivals in Oaklawn Park's Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee Stakes going 1 1/16 miles. The dual Grade 2 heroine, who is nominated to both the Triple Crown races and Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, could use the race as a springboard to either the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby against the boys or stay with the fillies in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes.

On Fire Baby opened her sophomore season at Oaklawn, taking on the boys in the Smarty Jones Stakes in mid-January. The gray daughter of Smoke Glacken wound up third in that one-mile contest, but has posted a pair of bullet moves over the track since. The Gary Hartlage trainee closed out her two-year-old campaign under Churchill Downs' Twin Spires, taking a pair of Grade 2 contests by seven total lengths.

On Fire Baby gets Lasix added for Saturday's Honeybee, and the likely favorite keeps regular rider Joe Johnson in the saddle.

Amie's Dini will attempt to snatch victory from On Fire Baby as she seeks her second straight win at the Hot Springs, Arkansas, venue. The Ron Moquett pupil captured the second race in Oaklawn's series of stakes for three-year-old fillies when adding the Martha Washington Stakes to her resume on February 11. The Bandini filly was second-best in the first race of the series, the Dixie Belle Stakes, but will have to concede three pounds to On Fire Baby while toting the Honeybee top weight of 122 pounds off her last win.

Jon Court has been aboard Amie's Dini since the filly was transferred to Moquett's shedrow and will be in the irons for this one.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel saddles a would-be upsetter in Inca Miss in the Honeybee. The three-year-old daughter of Kipling heads into a stakes race for the first time after finishing second in a key allowance race on February 12 behind returning rival Our Domain but ahead of fellow entrant Silver Hustler.

"I have been watching (On Fire Baby) train out here all this time," Von Hemel said, pointing to the neighboring barn where Hartlage stables the Honeybee favorite. "We have a very tough assignment. If she runs like she's been training she will be very tough to handle."

One positive Von Hemel has with Inca Miss is her proven versatility over various surfaces. She won three straight at Remington Park, with one victory coming on firm turf, and she finished a close second prior to that streak in a maiden race run over a sloppy track. Weather forecasters are predicting wet conditions all the way through Saturday.

Our Domain, a Scott Becker-trained daughter of Cherokee Rap, has yet to finish worse than second on dirt from six tries, and will be looking to score her first black-type win after running a dead-heat head second in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Stakes at Hawthorne in early December. Silver Hustler broke her maiden prior to finishing third behind Our Domain and Inca Miss while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Grant Forster is adding blinkers this time around to help the Political Force filly's chances.

The remaining Honeybee field is comprised of Rocket Twentyone, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassies last year and third in the Dixie Belle to start her sophomore season in early January; Colonial Empress, fourth while making her racing debut in the Martha Washington; and Forgotten People, an allowance winner via disqualification at Delta Downs on February 1.