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On Fire Baby Faces Boys in Smarty Jones

Oaklawn Park’s road to the Triple Crown, which culminates with the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) this spring, begins Jan. 16 with the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. The horse to watch is the speedy filly On Fire Baby, who closed out her juvenile campaign with back-to-back graded stakes wins at Churchill Downs.

Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby, whose only loss in four starts came in Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) on Polytrack, has had three solid works over the Oaklawn surface since arriving in Hot Springs in mid-December. Trainer Gary Hartlage does not fear taking on the boys, saying the main reason he chose the Smarty Jones was the one-mile distance. The first race in Oaklawn's filly series, the Dixie Belle, is six furlongs.

“She’s so ready,” said Hartlage. “She just looks so good and comes home so easily.”

A field of 12 was drawn for the Smarty Jones, which has a 4:33 CST post.


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