06/11/2013 2:07PM

Churchill Downs: On Fire Baby out of Fleur de Lis

Barbara D. Livingston
On Fire Baby, winner of the Apple Blossom, was under medical observation after spiking a fever of 104.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The top would-be challenger to Eclipse champion Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap was withdrawn from consideration Tuesday morning when trainer Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage reported that On Fire Baby had been transported to a Lexington equine clinic the previous night after spiking a high fever in her stall at Churchill Downs.

“We’re thinking and hoping it’s only a virus,” Hartlage said. The trainer said the filly developed “what we thought was a little case of colic” early Monday, “and we treated her, and she was fine. But then she didn’t go to her feed tub” Monday night.

Hartlage said On Fire Baby was transported to the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute for observation and treatment. The normal body temperature for a Thoroughbred is roughly 100 degrees, and hers was about 104, Hartlage said.

“We’ll just have to see what the doctors say,” he said. “Obviously, it’s bad timing, but these things happen a lot, unfortunately. Hopefully, she’ll be over it real soon.”

On Fire Baby, bred and owned by Anita Cauley, won the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in April and has earned $720,308. The gray 4-year-old filly was expected to be second choice to heavily favored Royal Delta in the $175,000 Fleur de Lis, the top supporting feature on the Stephen Foster Handicap card Saturday night at Churchill.

Entries were to be drawn Wednesday for the Saturday card, and the defection left just two others, Wine Princess and Funny Proposition, as definite opponents for Royal Delta. Churchill’s racing secretary, Ben Huffman, said Tuesday he was confident his staff would find another starter or two to allow the race to fill.

Royal Delta, the 2012 older female champion, will be ridden by Mike Smith in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis. A 5-year-old mare trained by Bill Mott, she will be making her first start since finishing 10th in the March 30 Dubai World Cup. Last year, Royal Delta won the Fleur de Lis by eight lengths when she returned from a ninth-place finish in the World Cup.

Royal Delta arrived here Sunday following a charter flight from New York. Also making the trip was her Mott stablemate, Ron the Greek, who last year dealt the eventual Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, his only defeat of 2012, getting up in the final jumps of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster to prevail by a head.

Mott arrived in Louisville not long after his stable stars and will be here through the weekend.

“He doesn’t like to get too far away from those good ones,” joked his local assistant, Kenny McCarthy.

A field of six for the Foster was holding firm Tuesday, those being Successful Dan, Fort Larned, Ron the Greek, Take Charge Indy, Golden Ticket, and Pool Play.

First post Saturday night is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the features likely to run in the 10 o’clock hour. The last of 11 races will go at 11:10. Two Grade 3 races for 3-year-olds, the Matt Winn and Regret, also will be on the program.

Forego137 More than 1 year ago
I like the owner of Royal Delta (Besilu Stables), he's not afraid to travel with Royal Delta and show case her talents, as R.D. gets older she seems to be getting better. One tough miss and she will once again be hard to be denied for the W and with perhaps the best big race rider in the country Mike Smith in the irons how can she miss
Dave More than 1 year ago
Pletcher doesn't have one entrant for the Foster? Where's Graydar?
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Out of training....yet again
John Byrne More than 1 year ago
Royal delta is a very good mare but better stick to the females stakes. Her two disappointing trips to Dubai show that she needs to stay with her own kind and be better managed
B More than 1 year ago
This isn't Dubai.
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
I think it has more to do with the synthetic surface. same reason almost no american horses have done well there since they moved tracks. Animal Kingdom was the exception because he loves synthetics and turf.
telfe23 More than 1 year ago
Royal Ddelta should run in the Stephen Foster
B More than 1 year ago
Other than grass, most of our best fillies and mares should be taking on the boys in a few divisions considering how our males are not terribly strong. As far as your thought is concerned, I totally agree. Royal Delta is a better horse than Fort Larned.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Eight Belles, Rags to Riches, Rachel Alexandra, Havre de Grace... most times when you ask a filly to run against the boys, they don't come back, or they come back not the same. Why would any owner pass up a $175,000 race that their horse could win without even breaking a sweat?
Zadig More than 1 year ago
dave, i disagree. plenty of mares, especially overseas, run against males just fine. it doesn't affect them going forward. eight belles beat every horse but one in the derby. racing against males isn't what caused her demise.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Bayakoa won her second BC Distaff after failing in the Santa Anita Hcp the previous winter. Personal Ensign was just as good after she beat males at Saratoga, ran down Winning Colors to win the BC Distaff. Relaxing (dam of Easy Goer) won the G2 Gallant Fox at 4 and became a G1 winner at 5. Nearly all of Drumtop's career was based on running against males. Cupecoy's Joy won the Acorn and Mother Goose after setting the pace and falling to last in the Kentcky Derby. I can come up with as many examples of mares who were fine after running against males.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
She might be better than Fort Larned at this point but there is a horse in the Foster field who has crossed the wire first 9 out of 12 races and 4 out of 4 at Churchill.
Gary Smith More than 1 year ago
Brushed By a Star is nominated for 3 stakes this weekend...The Fleur de Lis at Churchill,the Obeah at Delaware Park ,and the Vanity at Hollywood Park. Nice work June 5th. Wonder where she,ll race?