02/09/2012 4:10PM

Oaklawn Park: Now I Know may feel pressure in Martha Washington

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Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Now I Know, who has never been headed, will try to stretch her win streak to seven in Saturday's Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Now I Know has never tasted defeat. She has made a seamless transition from Oklahoma-bred company to the Grade 3 ranks, and on Saturday will attempt to extend her win streak to seven in the $75,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park.

Now I Know will be taking on six other 3-year-old fillies in the one-mile race, including a serious new pace rival in Lulu Wong, recent Delta Downs stakes winner Devious Intent, and the up-and-coming Amie’s Dini. And while the situation might cause some to cave to nerves, Now I Know’s 77-year-old co-breeder, co-owner and trainer Don Von Hemel has been taking things in stride leading up to the Martha Washington.

“I don’t have any pressure,” he said, when asked. “I learned a long time ago what pressure was. In 1958, I had three kids, a house, a house trailer, and a car and owed on all of them. That was pressure. I’m not under pressure now. We’re enjoying every minute of this.”

Von Hemel’s partner in Now I Know is Wayne Stockseth, who first sent a horse to the trainer 30 years ago. Von Hemel had purchased Now I Know’s dam, Now U Know, at auction as a yearling in 2006, but she sustained an injury shortly before launching her career and the decision was made to keep her for breeding purposes. On a mating to Pure Prize came Now I Know.

Now I Know won the first four starts of her career at Remington Park, starting with a maiden special weight against Oklahoma-breds in August and capped by a nine-length romp in the $81,000 Oklahoma Classics Lassie in October. From there, she traveled to Louisiana and won the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess at a mile in November.

Now I Know was then freshened for Oaklawn and picked off the track’s $50,000 Dixie Belle over opening weekend, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 86. She will be stretching out from six furlongs Saturday, and, as a runner who has yet to be headed in a race, figures to be prominent under regular rider Perry Compton.

“I see them chasing her,” Von Hemel said. “She’s quick, [but] if someone chases her fast enough, they may cause her to get beat. It would probably cause them to get beat, too. You have to take that into consideration.

“But she’s doing well. We all know those things come to an end sooner or later, and when they do, you just hope you get beat by a better horse.”

To this point in her career, Now I Know has not met one.

On Fire Baby points to Honeybee

On Fire Baby, the 3-year-old filly who was third against males in last month’s $100,000 Smarty Jones, is being pointed to the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 10, trainer Gary Hartlage said Thursday. The 1 1/16-mile race is for 3-year-old fillies. The decision comes three days after On Fire Baby breezed five furlongs in a bullet 59.80 seconds at Oaklawn.

“Her next race will be the Honeybee,” Hartlage said. “It’s the distance, and it’s better timing for us for May.”

On Fire Baby raced at a mile in the Smarty Jones, but prior to that start won the Grade 2 Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. For her success in that race, as well as the Grade 2 Pocahontas, also at Churchill, she is considered a leading candidate for the Kentucky Oaks.