05/22/2012 1:07PM

On Fire Baby heading to Belmont for Acorn Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Gary Hartlage will ship On Fire Baby to Belmont for the Acorn.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – On Fire Baby has trained so well since her fifth-place finish in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks that trainer Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage is trying her in another Grade 1 race, the Acorn Stakes on Monday at Belmont Park.

On Fire Baby is scheduled to leave Friday on a charter plane with other Churchill Downs-based horses bound for the big Memorial Day weekend in New York. The $300,000 Acorn, run at a one-turn mile, is set for the Metropolitan Mile undercard on Monday.

“She’s doing so good that we just thought we’d give this a try,” Hartlage said Tuesday. “She’s never been beat around one turn, and I thought her race in the Oaks was good. We’re just staying on the path we think she needs to be on.”

On Fire Baby, bred and owned by Anita Cauley, was the 4-1 second choice in the Oaks when getting a good inside stalking trip behind the eventual one-two finishers, Believe You Can and Broadway’s Alibi, before finishing 6 3/4 lengths in arrears. A bullet five-furlong workout Saturday morning in 59.60 seconds at Churchill helped convince Hartlage that he needed to send the gray daughter of Smoke Glacken on another search for her first Grade 1.

“She worked super,” he said. “She galloped out six furlongs in something like [1:12.40], and I just really liked what we saw. We’ll go on up to New York and see what happens.”

On Fire Baby has four wins, including three graded stakes, from seven career starts. She won her only two tries around one turn – her career debut last summer in an Ellis Park maiden sprint and the Grade 2 Pocahontas last fall at Churchill. Regular rider Joe Johnson retains the mount.

– additional reporting by Byron King