Hartlage Has Hopes for Cauley Homebred Wry

Son of Distorted Humor from On Fire Baby's female family an impressive maiden winner.

Anita Cauley's homebred colt Wry, a homebred son of Distorted Humor  out of a half sister to grade I winner On Fire Baby, cruised to a smart maiden win by three lengths in his second career start Sept. 7 at Churchill Downs.

Gary "Red Dog" Hartlage conditions the 2-year-old chestnut colt, who was ridden to victory by Joe Johnson in the 11th race on the "Downs After Dark" program. Wry, who returned $15.80 to win, completed seven furlongs in 1:24.08.

Wry had finished fourth in a six-furlong race in his debut Aug. 3 at Ellis Park. Given his bloodlines, he is a colt that has Hartlage thinking of bigger conquests down the road.

"He was no cinch or anything like that, but he acts like he's a good horse," Hartlage said the morning after the race. "He's going to be OK. We're thinking pretty big about him."

Wry is out of High Heels, who won the 2007 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park before she ran third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) to champion 3-year-old filly Rags to Riches.

High Heels was produced by Cauley's mare Ornate, who is the dam of On Fire Baby, winner this year's Apple Blossom (gr. I) at Oaklawn and the 2011 Pocahontas (gr. II) and Golden Rod (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. Under Hartlage's direction, On Fire Baby has won five of 11 career starts with earnings of $750,308 following a fourth-place run behind two-time champion Royal Delta in her most recent race in Saratoga's Personal Ensign (gr. I).

"It's all there," Hartlage said of Wry's female side of the pedigree. "Having Distorted Humor on top, it didn't hurt anything."

Hartlage has no immediate plans for Wry, but is assessing his options after the colt's emphatic victory over a group of well-regarded 2-year-old maidens. "I'm sure we'll try to stretch him out next time," he said. "We'll see where we go from there."

Hartlage also is mulling over future plans for On Fire Baby, who challenged Royal Delta in the early going of the Personal Ensign before fading. She came out of her Saratoga race well, and Hartlage has lost no faith in her talent and ability, but he's puzzled by her most recent outing.

"She just really didn't fire as good as I thought she would," he said. "If she had fired, I thought the worst we would be was second or third. But she came out of the race good."

The Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, which will be run on the Lexington track's synthetic Polytrack surface Oct. 6, is one option Hartlage is considering. On Fire Baby ran fifth after breaking from the outside post in Keeneland's 2011 Alcibiades (gr. I), the filly's only career outing on synthetic footing.