04/30/2014 12:15PM

On Fire Baby, Unlimited Budget look to end droughts

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Tom Keyser
On Fire Baby will look to end a winless streak that stretches back more than a year when she starts Friday in the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It has been more than a year since either On Fire Baby or Unlimited Budget has won a race. But it looks quite possible that one or the other will break that streak Friday at Churchill Downs in the $300,000 La Troienne Stakes, being run for the first time as a Grade 1.

On Fire Baby, a 5-year-old daughter of Smoke Glacken, has dropped five straight races since winning the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in April 2013. Her best race since then came in this race last year, when she battled Authenticity from the get-go, losing a head decision.

Most recently, On Fire Baby finished second to Close Hatches in the Apple Blossom, in which she chased from second all the way around.

“Her last race was plenty good,” trainer Gary Hartlage said. “That other filly might be the top filly in the country. I’m happy with where I’m at. I think she’ll show up.”

On Fire Baby is a two-time stakes winner at Churchill, having won the Pocahontas and Golden Rod stakes here as a 2-year-old. She will break from post 6 under Joe Johnson.

Unlimited Budget won the first four starts of her career, capped by the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. Her win streak came to an end when third in the Kentucky Oaks behind Princess of Sylmar and Beholder.

[DRF Live: Get live reports and handicapping insights from Churchill Downs on Friday]

“Those two other fillies are superstars. She was third-best on the day but not beaten far at all,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.

In two starts this year, Unlimited Budget finished fourth in a seven-furlong allowance race in which she ducked in at the break and was second to Gamay Noir in the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes, going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream. In the Rampart, Unlimited Budget chased the speedy Devil’s Cave, and both were run down by Gamay Noir.

Devil’s Cave is back in this spot as well.

“I thought the Rampart was really a solid effort,” Pletcher said. “I like backing up here to a mile and a sixteenth.”

Devil’s Cave also should appreciate backing up to 1 1/16 miles – the distance at which she won the Grade 2 Sabin Stakes in front-running fashion at Gulfstream.

Magic Union, trained by John Sadler, has a 2-2-0 record from five starts, including a second-place finish to Close Hatches in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn on March 15. Previously trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Magic Union has a win and a second in two starts at Churchill.

Molly Morgan, who has posted three of her four career wins at Churchill but never against stakes company, and Liberated complete the field.