10/04/2013 3:18PM

Keeneland: Emollient can complete rare double in Spinster

Barbara D. Livingston
Emollient is the only 3-year-old in the 11-horse Spinster field.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The day Emollient freaked in the Ashland Stakes, she did it from the far outside. Mike Smith sent her to the lead from post 13 and that was it. A nine-length victory in a Grade 1 rarely has been done so easily.

Six months later, Emollient returns to Keeneland as the lone 3-year-old in another Grade 1, the 58th running of the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster, as the likely favorite in a field of 11 fillies and mares. She is drawn closer to the inside, in post 5, with Smith back aboard. There seems little question that if she is to duplicate her effort from here in April, when she earned a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure in what remains her only attempt over Polytrack, her elders will be running for second money in this 1 1/8-mile race.

But hold on there.

On Fire Baby, one of just two other Grade 1 winners in the lineup, will break from the outside post, and her trainer, Gary Hartlage, believes jockey Joe Johnson might find himself employing the same kind of initiative Emollient used in her Ashland romp.

“I mean, on paper it looks like we might have as much speed as anybody in there,” said Hartlage, who trains 4-year-old On Fire Baby for owner-breeder Anita Cauley. “It’ll be up to Joe, but we’ll leave on out of there and see what happens.”

On Fire Baby is a gray filly with four graded wins to her credit from 11 starts, most notably the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in April. She has raced just once on Poly, finishing a respectable fifth in her second career start in the 2011 Alcibiades at Keeneland while still a maiden.

“That’s the big question, if she can handle the Poly,” said Hartlage. “Although I can’t say for sure, I do believe she’ll handle it just fine.”

On Fire Baby was hospitalized for a week this summer with an illness that began with a case of colic, but Hartlage says things have being going very well with the filly, especially since she returned to her Churchill Downs base following a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga six weeks ago.

“We wouldn’t have thought of running in here if she wasn’t 100 percent,” he said.

The other older Grade 1 winner in the Spinster field is Byrama (post 6, Rosie Napravnik), who accounted for the Vanity at Betfair Hollywood in June for trainer Simon Callaghan.

Other intriguing Spinster possibilities include Sisterly Love (post 3, Eurico da Silva), a Poly standout with a 5-for-9 career record; Wine Princess (post 7, Shaun Bridgmohan), a beautifully bred 4-year-old with a recent bullet work over the Poly surface for Steve Margolis; and Hard Not to Like (post 10, Robby Albarado), runner-up in the 2012 Ashland in her only attempt on Poly.

Rounding out the lineup are Open Water, Hard to Resist, Closing Range, Sisterhood, and Summer Applause.

As for Emollient, there is an underlying reason to her having shipped here from New York for this race, as opposed to staying home for any number of options: her owner-breeder, Juddmonte Farms, is the race sponsor. A daughter of Empire Maker, she faded to eighth in her most recent race three weeks ago, the Grade 1 Garden City on the Belmont Park turf.

Emollient “didn’t run a bad race” in the Garden City, said Rodolphe Brisset, the Bill Mott assistant who traveled here with the filly. “There was too much cut in the grass, and she didn’t care for the ground. We could see she wasn’t comfortable. Mike said she never really picked up the bridle like usual. So now she has a race under her belt.”

Emollient will be trying to pull a rare sweep of the Ashland and the Spinster in the same year. Only Doubledogdare (1956), Optimistic Gal (1976), and Take Charge Lady (2002) have done it before, all as 3-year-olds. In the past 10 runnings, 3-year-olds have won the Spinster twice, Panty Raid (2007) and In Lingerie (2012), both trained by Todd Pletcher.

The Spinster, a Win and You’re In event toward the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, is carded as the eighth of nine Sunday races. First post is 1:05 p.m., with the Spinster set for 4:49. It is the ninth and last of the FallStars Weekend stakes.

Directly preceding the Spinster as race 7 is another Win and You’re In event, the Grade  3, $150,000 Bourbon Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1  1/16 miles on the turf.