03/27/2012 2:32PM

Oaklawn Park: On Fire Baby puts in strong work; next race plans undecided

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
On Fire Baby will make her next start in either the Grade 2 Fantasy or Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Oaklawn Park’s biggest guns were out for major works Tuesday, with Caleb’s Posse tuning up for the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter at Aqueduct and On Fire Baby putting in an endurance move that readied her for either the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy or the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby. She is to make her next start in one of those races, both of which are in the final week of the meet at Oaklawn.

On Fire Baby breezed seven furlongs in 1:27.80 first after the renovation break on a humid, 65-degree morning. She warmed up with a pony, then broke off at the seven-eighths pole, working by herself on a fast track under regular rider Joe Johnson. She covered her first eighth of a mile in 12.40 seconds, with Oaklawn head clocker Jim Hamilton continuing to carry her through fractions of 25.20 for the opening quarter, 37.60 for three furlongs, 50.60 for the half-mile, and 1:04.20 for five-furlongs. She then galloped out the mile in 1:40.40.

“Joe couldn’t have worked her any better,” said Gary Hartlage, who trains On Fire Baby. “He said about a sixteenth of a mile from the pole she finally relaxed, and then everything he asked her to do, she just did it. She galloped out as fast as a lot of horses run. She’s ready.

“This puts us in a position to go back in 15 days or back in 18 days.”

The Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies is Wednesday, April 11, and the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby is Saturday, April 14. Hartlage said On Fire Baby could very well be entered in both races to keep her options open as the Arkansas Derby card is to be drawn earlier than the normal entry schedule on the morning of April 11.

“The way it’s set up, I believe we can do it,” Hartlage said.

But he added no firm course of action has been set for On Fire Baby, a multiple Grade 2 winner he trains for Anita Cauley.

“I told Anita today, ‘She’s ready to go in either spot, take your pick,’ ” Hartlage said. “I put the monkey on Anita’s back.”

The work Tuesday was On Fire Baby’s first since her win in the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee here March 10, and Hartlage said she may or may not breeze back prior to her next start at Oaklawn.

Caleb’s Posse preps for Carter

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse worked in the second set after the renovation break, going five furlongs in 59.80. The move was the fastest of 17 at the distance, and it came under jockey Luis Quinonez. Caleb’s Posse backtracked to the quarter pole, accompanied by a pony ridden by his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel. He went into his work down the backside, working by himself as Hamilton followed the horse through fractions of 11.80 for the opening eighth-mile, 24 seconds for the first quarter, 36.60 for three furlongs, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.40.

“We wanted to get a good solid work and hopefully make him ready for the race up there,” Von Hemel said.

The Carter will be run April 7. Von Hemel said travel plans have not yet been set for Caleb’s Posse, but the goal is to send the horse to New York early next week. It will be the second trip to Aqueduct for Caleb’s Posse, who flew out of Memphis last month to run in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool. He finished second by a neck in his first start since the Breeders’ Cup and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 110. Rajiv Maragh was aboard and has the mount in the Carter.

Caleb’s Posse races for the partnership of McNeill Stables and Cheyenne Stables.

Santana uninjured, to serve ban

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. suffered no major injuries after being thrown from his mount in Sunday’s last race, but because he has to serve suspensions for two separate riding infractions, he won’t be back riding until April 7. Santana sustained no broken bones when thrown near the quarter pole and was released from the hospital Sunday night. His suspensions run a total of six days.

“He was just getting rolling,” said Santana’s agent, Randy Matthews. “He had won four days in a row, was a double winner on Saturday, and just got beat a long neck in the stakes.”

Santana will ride at Delaware Park following Oaklawn, Matthews said.