Back in against fillies, the talented On Fire Baby will be the one to beat in the $125,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 10.
Eight 3-year-old fillies are entered in the Honeybee, and Anita Cauley's On Fire Baby appears ready to roll in her second start of the year for trainer Gary Hartlage. The gray/roan daughter of Smoke Glacken won both the Pocahontas (gr. II) and Golden Rod (gr. II) Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall. She kicked off her 2012 season with a third-place finish against males in Oaklawn's one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16.
On Fire Baby has been mentioned as a candidate for both the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Bands (gr. I). She's worked lights out over the Oaklawn track since the Smarty Jones and has Hartlage feeling quite confident heading into the Honeybee.
“Anything other than first-place and I’d probably be disappointed,” he said recently. “I think she’s that good.”
The Honeybee, at 1 1/16 miles, is part of an Oaklawn program that also features the return of the popular Win Willy in the $125,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III). The Honeybee is race 7 at approximately 4:03 p.m. CST, one hour before the Razorback.
Jockey Joe Johnson has the return call with On Fire Baby, who breaks from the far outside post with 119 pounds. On Fire Baby races without Lasix.
Also in the Honeybee field is Martha Washington Stakes winner Amie's Dini and grade III winner Rocket Twentyone.
Amie's Dini began the year with a runner-up finish to the since-retired Now I Know in Oaklawns's Dixie Belle Stakes at six furlongs. She turned the tables on that one in the one-mile Martha Washington, which she won by 1 3/4 lengths.
Trained by Ron Moquett for Mike Walker and Lou Satterfield, the quick-footed daughter of Bandini has also been working powerfully for her return. She turned in a sizzling five-furlong move in a bullet :59 2/5 in her most recent drill March 4.
“She’s quick enough to put herself in a position that we want," Moquett said of her most recent race. "We knew she had it in her, but we hadn’t seen it at two turns. Ratability is important and we’ve got a filly that is somewhat ratable.”
Moquett knows this will be a tough spot against On Fire Baby. “She’s obviously the horse to beat,” he said of On Fire Baby. “She’s a nationwide type of horse and Mr. Hartlage knows how to get one there."
Jon Court will be back aboard Amie's Dini, who carries top weight of 122 pounds from post 2.
Frank Fletcher’s Rocket Twentyone won last year's Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III) at Arlington Park and began the year with a third-place finish in the Dixie Belle. Trained by Tom Howard, the Indian Charlie filly is said to have recovered from a lung infection that kept her out of the Martha Washington.
“We lost about a week of training and anytime you get a setback like that, you probably always wish you had one more workout," Howard said.
$125,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III, Race 7, 4:03 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse. Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Inca Miss (OK), L Wade, 117, D K Von Hemel
2. Amie's Dini (KY), J K Court, 122, R Moquett
3. Forgotten People (KY), R A Vazquez, 117, B Chatters
4. Colonial Empress (VA), T J Thompson, 115, D W Lukas
5. Rocket Twentyone (ON), P Compton, 119, W T Howard
6. Our Domain (IL), I Ocampo, 119, S Becker
7. Silver Hustler (KY), C S Nakatani, 115, G T Forster
8. On Fire Baby (KY), J M Johnson, 119, G G Hartlage
Blinkers On: Colonial Empress, Our Domain, Silver Hustler