Anita Cauley's On Fire Baby surged past pace-setting Devil's Cave in the upper stretch and drew off to win by 2 ¾ lengths over Molly Morgan in the 29th running of the $327,000 La Troienne (Grade I) Presented by the World Series of Polo for fillies and mares to open stakes action on Kentucky Oaks Day.
Trained by Gary Hartlage and ridden by Joe Johnson, On Fire Baby covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:43.48 and became a millionaire with Friday's check of $200,713. Now a winner of six of 15 starts including three graded stakes at Churchill Downs, On Fire Baby has earned $1,082,687.
Devil's Cave, ridden by Javier Castellano, led the field of six through fractions of :24.27, :47.51 and 1:11.32 with On Fire Baby tracking just behind.
On Fire Baby, who finished second in last year's La Troienne a head behind Authenticity, drew even at the head of the lane and quickly pulled clear.
A 5-year-old homebred daughter of Smoke Glacken out of the Gilded Time mare Ornate, On Fire Baby returned mutuels of $5.20, $3.40 and $2.40. Molly Morgan, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $9 and $3.60 and finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Devil's Cave, who paid $2.80 to show.
Magic Union finished another 2 ½ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Unlimited Budget and Liberated.
LA TROIENNE QUOTES
JOE JOHNSON, rider of On Fire Baby (winner): – "She broke well. We wanted to be in a stalking position. Her last race was a good one. She was second to Close Hatches and we had given her a run for the money that day. She showed today that she is among the best. She is so gutsy."
GARY HARTLAGE, trainer of On Fire Baby (winner): – "I looked at the race not as Gary Hartlage because in my mind she's always going to win. I thought the five (Devil's Cave) would be on the lead and we would be stalking her. Joe (Johnson) had to get into her to keep up. Joe did a super job riding her. He asked her and she went on. I've always thought she was one of the top horses in the country and hopefully she showed that today."
COREY LANERIE, rider of Molly Morgan (second) -- "I thought I had it, man. I figured there'd be a quick pace in there and my mare settled nice. I had a good trip, got out about the five-sixteenth pole and set her down and I was hoping she'd come back. She started to but that's a nice filly that beat us. Hats off to them and my filly ran a big race."
DALE ROMANS, trainer of Molly Morgan (second) – "That was a good race for my filly. She's a good one. The winner is, too. My filly is on the upswing."
JAVIER CASTELLANO, rider of Devil's Cave (third) – "She ran a good race and I'm not disappointed at all. She hooked up with the winner all the way in the race. I give the winner a lot of credit. My filly did a great performance today and I'm very satisfied with the way she did it."
JOSE LEZCANO, rider of Magic Union (fourth) – "She was in a good spot; I liked our chances. But she just didn't have her kick at the end. She couldn't get up or catch up."
Churchill Downs, the world's most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America's greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014. The 2014 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs is scheduled for April 26-June 29. The track has hosted the Breeders' Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.