On Fire Baby, La Troienne, Churchill Downs, May 2nd 2014
Trained by: Gary Hartlage, Sire: Smoke Glacken. Dam: Ornate by Gilded Time
It’s only fitting that Anita Cauley, who routinely gives so much to others, has been given so much by her foundation mare, Ornate, the dam of On Fire Baby and two other stakes winners. Fortunately, Cauley held on to Ornate after she failed to reach a reserve bid, “a wonderful turn of events,” she said.
A native of Indiana who moved to Lexington, Kentucky, Cauley is a member of the First Lady of Kentucky Jane Beshear’s “Pink Stable,” a committee of women in the racing industry that assists Beshear’s Horses and Hope Organization, which works to increase breast cancer awareness, education, and treatment referral in the Kentucky racing industry.
Cauley, who grew up outside Indianapolis, loved horses but didn’t learn to ride until she was 22,
taking a class with school-aged children. “I was completely embarrassed by that, but was told I needed to learn how to ride properly,” she said in a 2012 story by Evan Hammonds in The Blood-Horse. “I got through that and eventually showed Arabians.”Cauley and her late husband, Barry Ebert, who owned an investment counseling firm, got into racing more than 25 years ago.
Searching for a trainer, they met and were impressed with Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage’s demeanor and family-oriented operation, noting that most of Hartlage’s family lived within a mile of each other in the Louisville neighborhood of Shively. “That was the atmosphere I wanted,” Cauley said. “This is such a tough business that it makes it that much more enjoyable when all these other people get it and they know how hard it is.”
Hartlage is still thankful for meeting Cauley. “I’m still training horses because of her,” he said. “If you want to rate somebody on a scale of 1 to 10, she’s a 10. She’s got total faith in me, and I have total faith in her.”
Success can do that for you. Cauley and Ebert purchased Ornate for $80,000 as a yearling in 1998, and Ornate won the 2002 Pleasant Temper Stakes at Kentucky Downs. They entered Ornate, who
was in foal to E Dubai, in the 2003 Keeneland November sale at Keeneland, then decided to keep the mare when she failed to meet her reserve.Ornate produced 2007 Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes winner High Heels, who finished third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and earned nearly half a million dollars, and French Kiss, who won the 2009 Pippin Stakes and was third in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes.
Cauley takes her involvement in racing seriously. “I really look at the spreadsheets and stallion numbers,” she said. “I look at stallions that have good race records at four and five, a horse that was out
there and was sound and racing at that age.”On Fire Baby may be Cauley’s best horse. The gray mare won the Grade 3 Honeybee as a three-year-old, the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at four, and now, after running second in the Apple Blossom to Close Hatches, the Grade 1 La Troienne this year at five. She has already earned more than $1.08 million from six victories, two seconds, and one third in just 16 starts.