05/17/2008 12:00AM

Fires scores in stakes


Jockey Earlie Fires, 61, continued his spring renaissance at Arlington Park, winning the Reluctant Guest Stakes at Arlington Park aboard Forever Together.

Fires won for the second time on Saturday's card, giving him 9 victories at this meet from only 17 starts. But he had plenty of help Saturday from Forever Together, who ran big in her grass debut for trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Winner of the Grade 2 Forward Gal in March 2007 at Gulfstream Park, Forever Together won Saturday after a long dry spell, having turned in four subpar efforts since finishing a close second in the Beaumont Stakes more than a year ago at Keeneland.

But Forever Together is by Belong to Me and out of a mare by Relaunch, a turf pedigree for a trainer whose renown extends into the steeplechase ranks, and the 4-year-old filly's victory was perhaps more impressive than her mere 1 1/4-length win margin. Rated in sixth place to the half-mile pole of the one-mile race, Forever Together moved up while wide on the turn, took the measure of the leaders just inside the eighth pole, and was clearly best under the finish. She paid $18.20 to win, and was timed in 1:39.05 over a turf course rated yielding.

Longshot pacesetter Lemonline held second, followed by late-running Lady Lionel. Favored Ballado's Thunder faded badly in the stretch and wound up eighth. Ciao finished fifth in her 2008 debut after suffering through a tough trip.