Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby, a disappointing fifth as the second choice earlier this month in the nine-furlong Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), shortens up a furlong and tries Belmont Park for the first time May 25 in the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I).
The 3-year-old daughter of Smoke Glacken is part of six-horse field for the $300,000 Acorn that includes Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III) winner Contested and grade III winner Sacristy. All starters carry 121 pounds.
The one-mile Acorn, which for the last several years was part of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) program, has been moved to Memorial Day, joining the traditional Metropolitan Mile Handicap (gr. I), Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I), and Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.
On Fire Baby was on fire earlier in the year while running third against the boys in the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes and winning the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park for trainer Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage. A two-time graded winner at 2, On Fire Baby drew post 1 while facing a full field of 14 in the Kentucky Oaks. Staying along the rail for the race, she gave way in the lane, finishing 6 3/4 lengths behind Believe You Can.
She’ll break from post 3 in the Acorn. Since the Oaks the gray/roan filly has only one recorded workout, a bullet :59 3/5 move May 19 at Churchill Downs. Regular rider Joe Johnson will ride the filly, who is out of the Gilded Time mare Ornate.
Contested, owned by Jill Baffert and trained by her husband, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, stretches out to a mile in Acorn from the seven-furlong Eight Belles, a race that was run on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. By Ghostzapper , out of the Arch mare Gold Vault, Contested was bred by Cherry Valley Farm and consigned to the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale by Claiborne Farm, agent. Baffert purchased the filly for $110,000.
Second in her debut at Del Mar last summer, Contested broke her maiden in early October at Santa Anita Park. Given time off after having a bone chip removed from an ankle, Contested crushed an allowance field at Santa Anita April 15 and was shipped to Kentucky for the Eight Belles.
Javier Castellano will be up for the first time on Contested, who has been ridden by Martin Garcia in all four of her previous starts. She worked five furlongs in 1:00.05 on a good surface May 23.
Peachtree Stable’s Sacristy, trained by Wayne Catalano, was seventh in the Kentucky Oaks in her last start as a 39-1 outsider. At shorter trips this year the daughter of Pulpit won the six-furlong Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, ran third to Oaks-second Broadways Alibi in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II), and was second in the seven-furlong, 184-foot Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack at Keeneland in mid-April.
Out of the Belong to Me mare Christies Treasure, Sacristy was bred in Kentucky by Elisabeth Alexander. Peachtree’s John Fort bought her for $125,000 from the Eaton Sales, agent, consignment during the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling auction.
R.A. Hill Stable and George Weaver’s Hard Mystery has the advantage of a stakes score on the Belmont surface and at the Acorn distance. The daughter of Hard Spun won the $90,000 Inside Information Stakes April 28, getting the one-turn mile in 1:35.54. Sporting a 4-2-0 mark from eight career starts, she’ll be stepping up to graded company for the first time.
Rounding out the field is a pair of well-bred fillies.
Live Oak Plantation’s Zo Impressive, another daughter of Hard Spun, ran second to Grace Hall in the nine-furlong Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II) last time out at the end of March. She is out of the grade I-winning Zoftig (Cozzene—Mrs. Marcos, by Private Account). Carrying the Acorn starter, Zoftig sold to Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation for $1.5 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton November sale.
Aubby K, Jame Spence’s homebred Street Sense filly, won a 61/2-furlong allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream in her lone 2012 start to date. Aubby K is out of grade III winner Lilly Capote.
$300,000 TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I), Race 9 (5:14 p.m. EDT), 3-Year-Old Filles, One Mile. All starters carry 121 pounds.
PP., Jockey, Trainer
1. Contested, Javier Castellano, Bob Baffert
2. Hard Mystery, Eddie Castro, George Weaver
3. On Fire Baby, Joe Johnson, Gary Hartlage
4. Zo Impressive, Rajiv Maragh, Thomas Albertrani
5. Sacristy, Rosie Napravnik, Wayne Catalano
6. Aubby K, Edgar Prado, Ralph Nicks