02/23/2005 12:00AM

Jinks Fires barn en fuego

Email
Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Isabell's Shoes wins the Martha Washington on Monday at Oaklwan for hot trainer Jinks Fires.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Jinks Fires has been on a tear at Oaklawn Park, where he has won with six of his first 16 starters. Last week alone, he won a pair of high-profile races with half-siblings Wildcat Shoes and Isabell's Shoes.

Wildcat Shoes won an allowance on Saturday, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105 and becoming a top candidate for the $50,000 Hot Springs on March 26. Two days later, his half-sister Isabell's Shoes won the $50,000 Martha Washington, just like her dam, Pink Shoes, did in 1995, and her granddam Fun Flight did in 1988.

Other popular winners for the Fires barn include Maisie's Son, a recent allowance winner who could develop into a candidate for the Grade 3, $100,000 Fifth Season Breeders' Cup on April 13.

The fast start for Fires, who has a 22-horse stable at the meet, places him in a tie for fourth place in the trainer standings.

"What happens to a trainer a lot of times, everything kind of comes together at one time, and that's obviously what happened to us," said Fires. "All of the horses just kind of came together."

Patricia Blass, whom Fires has trained for for nearly 30 years, races Wildcat Shoes and Isabell's Shoes, who is being considered for the $75,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 20.

Wildcat Shoes ran the fastest six furlongs of the Oaklawn meet last week, winning the allowance in 1:09.60. Fires said a long-term goal for Wildcat Shoes is the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn on April 14.

"Wildcat Shoes ran awful sharp," said Fires. "He's an impressive horse. He's the kind that makes you feel good about getting up every morning."

Fires is a longtime horseman and the brother of Hall of Fame rider Earlie Fires.

Tough pickings in feature

The featured eighth race on Friday has drawn a well-matched field of fillies and mares attempting to clear the two-other-than allowance condition. The race will be run over six furlongs, and the major players appear to be Nikki's Growl, Spurt, Riverbrook, and Miss Concerto.

Nikki's Growl is a nine-time winner who finished second at this level last out in her first start back from a two-month freshening. Don Pettinger has the mount for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Miss Concerto was third in the same race as Nikki's Growl while making her first start since October. Trainer Bob Holthus has given the mount to John McKee. Miss Concerto is a late-runner and figures to be coming through the stretch after the front-running Nikki's Growl.

Spurt will be making her first start since Nov. 26. She shows a good series of works for her return and is another who will be closing late. Trainer Mark Danner has given the mount to Justin Shepherd. Spurt races for Oaklawn president Charles Cella.

* The racing community turned out in full force Sunday night to honor jockey Calvin Borel, who two weeks ago won the 4,000th race of his career. An open house in his honor was held at the Elks Lodge in Hot Springs, Ark. Borel is tied atop the Oaklawn jockey standings with Roman Chapa.