Last year On Fire Baby and Padua Stable's Authenticity engaged in a duel throughout the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares that saw the latter prevail by a head at the wire. The two were heads apart throughout the second half of the race and they pulled away from the rest of the field.
On Fire Baby, a 5-year-old daughter of Smoke Glacken, enters the La Troienne off a runner-up finish to Close Hatches in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) April 11 at Oaklawn Park. Trained by Gary "Red Dog" Hartlage, On Fire Baby secured a grade I score in last year's Apple Blossom.
The only grade I winner in the field of six, On Fire Baby will try to end a five-race skid in this year's La Troienne, which was upgraded to grade I status for this year.
Looking to break through for her first grade I score will be Unlimited Budget, who a year ago finished third in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on this card at Churchill. The grade II-winning daughter of Street Sense then finished sixth against males in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who won the La Troienne for a second time last year with Authenticity, Repole Stables' Unlimited Budget enters off a runner-up finish to Gamay Noir in the Rampart Stakes (gr. III) March 29 at Gulfstream Park.
Also entering off the Rampart is Devil's Cave, who finished third in that race. Campaigned by John Clay's Alpha Delta Stables, grade II winner Devil's Cave has won every other race going back three wins and would extend that pattern with a victory Friday.
Rounding out the field are Magic Union, who finished second to Close Hatches in the Azeri Stakes (gr. II) March 15 at Oaklawn; Liberated, who has lost three straight races following a win in a November allowance race at Churchill; and Molly Morgan, who won an allowance-optional claiming race at Churchill in November.
$300,000 La Troienne Stakes (gr. I, race 5, approximate post time 12:43 p.m. EDT) F&M, 4YO&Up, 1 1/16 miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Molly Morgan (KY), C. Lanerie, 118, D. Romans
2. Liberated (KY), S. Elliott, 118, V. Oliver
3. Unlimited Budget (FL), J. Velazquez, 118, T. Pletcher
4. Magic Union (KY), J. Lezcano, 118, J. Sadler
5. Devil's Cave (FL), J. Castellano, 120, M. Wolfson
6. On Fire Baby (KY), J. Johnson, 118, G. Hartlage