On Fire Baby, now a multiple a Grade 1 winner following a 2 3/4-length score in last month's La Troienne at Churchill Downs, will seek to make it two in a row under the Twin Spires on Saturday night when she heads a field of six fillies and mares in the Grade 2, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap over 1 1/8 miles.
A gray daughter of sprint champion Smoke Glacken, On Fire Baby earned her first top-level victory in the 2012 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn, but dropped five straight before returning to the winner's circle in the 1 1/16-mile La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day. The five-year-old has won three of five starts over Churchill's main track, but has not hit the board in three previous outings over nine furlongs.
The Bob Baffert-trained Fiftyshadesofhay recently snapped a lengthy losing skid herself, prevailing by three parts of a length in the Ruffian Handicap at Belmont on May 11. The Pulpit filly captured last year's Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico and Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows, but entered the Ruffian with five losses in a row.
Distance does not figure to be a problem for Flashy American, a four-time stakes winner over the past 12 months including a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on April 19. The Kenny McPeek charge owns a solid 7-3-2-1 over the Churchill strip, punctuated by a victory in the Locust Grove last September.
Debuting for trainer Brad Cox is Ondine, who was previously stabled with Baffert in Southern California, where she won a minor stakes at Fairplex last fall and placed in both the Hollywood Oaks and La Canada. The field is rounded out by La Troienne runner-up Molly Morgan and the multiple Grade 3-placed Frivolous, who has done her best work on synthetic surfaces.
Tapiture, who fell off the Triple Crown trail following a 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, figures to be the favorite in the Grade 3, $100,000 Matt Winn, a 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-olds.
Fourth in the Arkansas Derby prior to the Run for the Roses, the Steve Asmussen trainee developed into a classic prospect following a maiden-breaking win in last November's Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill and a follow-up triumph in the Southwest at Oaklawn, both by margins of 4 1/4 lengths. In between the Southwest and Arkansas Derby, the son of Tapit finished a half-length second in the Rebel at Oaklawn.
Also likely to attract significant backing are Rise Up, whose dominating stakes wins include the Delta Downs Jackpot and April 19 Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town, and Almost Famous, who's captured two course-and-distance allowances by a combined margin of 13 3/4 lengths.
Also entered were Holy Bull runner-up Conquest Titan, Grade 3-placed Rankhasprivileges, The Admiral, and Ulanbator.
Fresh off a victory against the boys in the Arlington Classic, Istanford returns to the three-year-old filly ranks for the Grade 3, $100,000 Regret over 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The Arlington Classic was the first stakes win for the daughter of Istan, who finished second to returning rival A Little Bit Sassy in the May 2 Edgewood over the local grass.
Trying turf for the first time in the Regret are a pair of Kentucky Oaks also-rans, Fantasy runner-up Kiss Moon and Bourbonette Oaks winner Aurelia's Belle. Tepin, heroine of the Delta Downs Princess last fall but up the track in the Miss Preakness in her season debut, is another turf newbie, as are the allowance winners Handmade and Stellaris.
Completing the field are V V Goodnight, a closing fourth in the Edgewood; Share the Sugar, a June 5 allowance winner going a mile on the Churchill grass; and the stakes-placed Personal Diary.