Anita Cauley’s homebred On Fire Baby, a local favorite who won the Grade I La Troienne at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, will seek her fourth
career stakes victory at her home track when she faces a strong group of five rivals in the 39th running of the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap (Grade II), one of five major stakes
races scheduled for a “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” night racing program headed by the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).
The Fleue De Lis, one of
five graded stakes races on Saturday’s 11-race card, is scheduled as the
evening’s seventh race with a post time of 9:05 p.m. (all times EDT). Admission gates for “Downs After Dark” will
open at 4 p.m. and post time for the first of the evening’s 11 races is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Fleur De Lis is a 1
1/8-mile handicap race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up that was
run for the first time in 1975. Recent winners have included champions Rachel Alexandra and Royal Delta,
and other winners have included such notables as Serena’s Song, Banshee Breeze, Escena, Spain and You.
Trained by Louisville native Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage,
On Fire Baby has raced five times at Churchill Downs – all in stakes
races. She notched a pair of Grade II wins in the Pocahontas and Golden
Rod as a
2-year-old in 2011 before she ran fifth the following spring to Believe You Can in the 2012 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks (GI). She returned to the track in 2013 with a narrow loss to Authenticity in the La Troienne, which was then a Grade
II race, and rolled to an easy win in this spring’s renewal of that 1 1/16-mile race, which is now a Grade I event.
On Fire Baby will be ridden by Joe Johnson
from post four and has been assigned high weight of 122 pounds. Her La
Troienne victory improved her overall record to 5-4-3 in 16 races and
booster her to millionaire
status when it lifted her career earnings to $1,082,687. Her list of
wins also includes the 2013 Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park.
On Fire Baby is to join the roster of previous Fleur De Lis winners and
increase her impressive total of stakes triumphs at Churchill Downs,
she will need to turn back expected challenges from two stars positioned
just to her outside in the starting gate: Fiftyshadesofhay and Flashy American.
Fiftyshadesofhay will break from post five as she makes her Churchill
Downs debut in the Fleur De Lis for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul
Weitman. With Saturday’s run at the Louisville, Ky. track, the
4-year-old daughter of Pulpit will have competed at nine different
tracks in five states.
Her most recent win came at
Belmont Park in the $250,000 Ruffian (GII) and it was one of her most
impressive efforts. She launched a dazzling stretch charge to defeat
Grade I winner Grace Hall by three-quarters
of length for her first victory in three 2014 races. Her career record
of 5-4-3 in 15 races also includes stakes wins in Pimlico’s Black-Eyed
Susan (GII), Prairie Meadows’ Iowa Oaks (GIII) and Santa Anita’s Santa
Ysabel (GIII) and runner-up finishes to champion
Beholder in the Las Virgenes (GI), Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Princess of Sylmar in Saratoga’s Alabama (GI) and Broken Sword in Betfair Hollywood Park’s Bayakoa (GII).
A victory in the Fleur De
Lis would earn millionaire status for Fiftyshadesofhay, who has already
collected $946,547 in her career bankroll. She will carry 121 pounds –
one fewer than the impost for On Fire Baby
– and jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for her victory in the Ruffian, will return to the saddle.
Breaking from the outside gate in the field of six is Preston Stables LLC’s Flashy American, who won the $150,000-added Sixty Sails (GIII) at Arlington Park in her most recent start. It was the first
graded stakes triumph for the 5-year-old daughter of Flashy Bull and a significant accomplishment for the Kenny McPeek trainee who did not find her way into the winner’s circle until her 11th
career start in a $25,000 claiming race in July 2012 at Saratoga.
Sixty Sails was her fourth stakes win in 15 races since Flashy
American’s breakthrough win at Saratoga. Flashy American also won the
Locust Grove in September at Churchill Downs and scored 2013 stakes wins
the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows and the Alada at Saratoga. The win
at Arlington improved her career record to 8-3-3 in 26 races with
earnings of $515,163.
Like On Fire Baby, Flashy
American has displayed an affinity for Churchill Downs, where she has a
record of 3-2-1 in seven starts. Julien Leparoux will be in the saddle aboard McPeek’s star, who will carry
While On Fire Baby,
Fiftyshadesofhay and Flashy American are likely to attract the interest
of most Downs After Dark fans, the remaining three fillies and mares
that will join them in the Fleur De Lis starting gate
bring solid credentials into Saturday’s race.
Bill Cubbage’s Molly Morgan
ran second to On Fire Baby in the La Troienne, where she finished 2 ¾
lengths behind the winner. It was the best effort in the career of the Dale Romans-trained daughter
of Ghostzapper, who will be ridden from post two by Corey Lanerie, the leading jockey of the Spring Meet.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Frivolous, a 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker, comes into the race for trainer Vicki Oliver off a runner-up finish to La Tia in the Arlington Matron (GIII)
over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Arlington Park on May 27. James Graham will ride Frivolous, who will carry 114 pounds and breaks from post three in the Fleur De Lis.
An unknown factor in the race could be Peachtree Stable’s Ondine, a 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro who makes her first start for new trainer Brad Cox. She finished fifth as the favorite
in the Santa Maria (GII) at Santa Anita in her most recent outing on Feb. 15. Prior to that race, she ran third to Spellbound in the La Cañada (GII) over the Arcadia, Calif. track. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan will be in the irons for the Kentucky
debut of Ondine, who will carry 116 pounds and drew the inside post.
The field for the Fleur De
Lis (with jockey, weight) from the rail out: Ondine (Bridgmohan, 116),
Molly Morgan (Lanerie, 116), Frivolous (Graham, 114), On Fire Baby
(Johnson, 122), Fiftyshadesofhay (Velazquez, 121)
and Flashy American (Leparoux, 119).