09/03/2003 11:00PM

Fires family has Got the Goods


CHICAGO - Since he has made four starts in his brief career, the 2-year-old Got the Goods qualifies as a wizened veteran in Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes at Arlington. The seasoning edge extends to the humans in his corner.

The trainer William "Jinks" Fires will saddle Got the Goods Saturday, give a leg up to his younger brother Earlie "Brother" Fires, and send the pair one turn around Arlington's walking ring and then to the racetrack.

This sort of thing has been happening for about 44 years.

Earlie Fires, a member of racing's Hall of Fame, is 56, and he may have been about 12 when Jinks first gave him a leg up on a racehorse, though the older brother traces their racing history even deeper into the past.

"He was in diapers the first time he rode for me," Fires, 63, said Thursday, speaking on a cellular telephone while driving a truck and horse trailer down a Kentucky freeway.

These two have been around the Midwest for about as long as anyone remembers. Their racing association began in the middle of the 20th century on a farm outside Memphis, Tenn. An owner named Joe Hanson had seen Jinks Fires riding bulls and horses in a rodeo, and hired him to break his Thoroughbred yearlings. Jinks convinced Earlie to come up to Memphis on weekends to get on the babies.

"Earlie'd come over on the bus from northwestern Arkansas," Fires said. "I remember picking him up at the station."

Jinks Fires bases his operation at Churchill Downs, and runs far more horses during the summer in Kentucky than in Chicago. Earlie plies his trade during the summer months at Arlington - he is having a solid season with 30 wins here - and so the two team up this time of year only when Fires ships in for an Arlington race.

Got the Goods arrived here Wednesday, and Jinks Fires believes this is a 2-year-old with a future. A Pulpit colt bred and owned by Patricia Blass, Got the Goods ran fourth in his debut, then twice finished second before breaking out with a seven-length maiden win on Aug. 16 at Ellis Park. His big race grew out of three things - a growing comfort with the business of racing, added distance, and the addition of blinkers.

"We thought he was waiting on horses," Fires said. "He'd make the lead and wait. So we added blinkers to get him to finish up more, and it seemed to work."

Got the Goods could get competition in the $45,000-added Spectacular Bid from Voladero, who was used on a fast pace here in an Aug. 20 allowance race, or Korbyn Gold, who won the $70,000 Middleground Stakes at Lone Star but flopped last month in the Ellis Park Juvenile.

The Fires brothers hope Got the Goods is a young colt that can take them places. "We think he'll get better with age," Jinks Fires said.

And he was speaking from experience.