It’s easy to get caught up with I'll Have Another and his bid for the Triple Crown, but there's another important 3-year-old race before the Belmont Stakes (gr. I): the May 28 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) for fillies at Belmont Park.
The $300,000, one-mile dirt contest kicks off the New York Triple Tiara for 3-year-old fillies. The second leg is the June 23 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I), with the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), now run at Saratoga Race Course July 21, closing out the series.
Entries for the Acorn will be drawn May 25. Among the list of probables is Anita Ebert-Cauley’s homebred filly On Fire Baby, who is looking to redeem herself after a lackluster fifth-place effort in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Gary Hartlage, the daughter of Smoke Glacken came into the Oaks off a victory in the March 10 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. The Acorn will mark the first start in New York for On Fire Baby, who last year captured the Golden Rod and Pocahontas stakes (both gr. II) at Churchill.
In her most recent workout May 19, On Fire Baby covered five furlongs in :59 2/5, ranked the fastest of 26 horses that worked the same distance that day at Churchill.
The Kentucky-bred holds a career record of 4-0-1 from seven starts for earnings of $339,629. Out of the Gilded Time mare Ornate, she has been ridden in all her starts by Joe Johnson.
The horse that appears to pose the biggest threat to On Fire Baby is Hard Mystery, who captured the Inside Information Stakes by an impressive 5 3/4 lengths at Belmont April 28. The daughter of Hard Spun is the only early Acorn probable that has a previous score at the New York track.
Hard Mystery is trained by George Weaver, who co-owns her with R.A. Hill Stable. Bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stables, she is out of the Summer Squall mare Summer Rainbow.
The dark bay or brown filly, who also won the Feb. 24 Biogio’s Rose Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, sports a record of 4-2-0 from eight starts and earnings of $166,930.
Other probable Acorn contenders include Aubby K, who won an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park by 9 3/4 lengths March 25 and has been training at Saratoga for Ralph Nicks; Contested, who scored in the May 4 Eight Belles (gr. III) at Churchill for trainer Bob Baffert and his wife, Natalie; and the Tom Albertrani-trained Zo Impressive, who has had three promising starts at Gulfstream this winter, including a second behind Grace Hall in the March 31 Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II).