Episode #33 - The Flame Pokemon-athon
Ash, Misty, and Brock are walking along in the forest and reach what they think to be the Safari Zone. They hear a loud rumbling, and see a large herd of Tauros running in front of them. Ash wants to catch one, and tells Pikachu to attack them. Pikachu is afraid of the huge Tauros, however, and refuses. Ash then sends out Charmander, and tells him to use his Ember attack. Charmander is just about to do so, when a Growlithe jumps out from nowhere and lands on him. The Tauros have run away, and Ash has Charmander use Flamethrower. The Growlithe uses the same attack at the same time, and both attacks are deflected. Ash withdraws Charmander and is about to send out Squirtle, when a girl on a Ponyta stops him. She informs them that he and his friends are in the Big P Pokémon Ranch, and it is illegal to catch the Pokémon in it. She introduces herself as Laura Laramie, and says that her family owns the ranch. The Growlithe pops up, and Laura explains that he guards the ranch, making sure no one catches the Pokémon there.
Laura shows Ash and his friends around, and they see groups of all sorts of Pokémon being attended to by several people. After checking his Pokédex, Ash asks Laura why she isn't burned by Ponyta's fire mane. She replies that Ponyta never burns anyone he trusts. Ash reaches out to pet the fire horse, but Ponyta sets his whole hand afire. Ash quickly douses it using Squirtle, and Laura laughs, saying that it took Ponyta a while to trust her, too. Brock tells Misty and Ash how Pokémon breeders love Pokémon from the Big P, as they are always a little stronger than other Pokémon. Laura is glad people know how much work is put into raising the Pokémon. She then invites Ash and his friends to a party later that night, and tells them that they can stay overnight and watch the race that is going to occur the next day. When Ash asks what the race is about, she explains that the Big P ranch has one every year, and the winner becomes and honorary member of the Laramie family. Suddenly, a flock of Dodrio run by, followed by a boy on the same type of bird. The boy brags about how he's going to win, then he rides off, following the flock. Misty thinks that the boy is a jerk, and Laura explains that his name is Dario, and that he's a Dodrio trainer.
That night, Ash and his friends walk with Laura through the party. Several people wish her luck in the race, and Ash is happy that they met such a good breeder. Suddenly, Dario runs up, telling Laura that her herd of Tauros are acting up. Ash and his friends go with her to the pen, and they see some sort of sparkly thing moving around in the herd, stirring them all up. Laura sends Growlithe out to see what's wrong, and the Tauros calm down. The sparkling object darts in front of Ponyta, who rears up, throwing Laura off and breaking her arm. Ash grabs Ponyta's reins and calms him down, amazing Laura as to how well he acted. Nearby, hiding behind a silo, Dario congratulates Team Rocket on how well they did (Meowth's charm was the sparkling object that was stirring up the Tauros). As it turns out, he has employed them to ensure that he will win the race and make mega money as part of the Laramie clan.
Later that night, after Laura's arm is put into a sling, she sadly says how she won't be able to race. She then asks Ash to ride Ponyta in the race for her. Ash is surprised, saying that Ponyta doesn't trust him. Laura tells him that she knows he can do it, especially since he was able to call Ponyta down so well earlier. Misty and Brock encourage him, and he agrees. He reaches out to pet Ponyta, but he gets burned again. Laura scolds Ponyta, and tells him that if he can win the race with a rider other than her, everyone will know how truly special he is. Ponyta relents, and allows Ash to climb onto his back.
The next day, the race is about to begin, and the racers line up at the starting line. There are all sorts of racers, from Pikachu on Squirtle, to a man on an Electrode, to Brock riding Onix. Laura, sitting in the stands with Growlithe, wishes Ash luck, and the race begins. Dario on a Dodrio pulls out for an early lead, with the rest soon behind. As they all race through a field, a pellet is fired at a Tauros. The Tauros bumps into a Nidorina, and the two start to fight, knocking them out of the race. Team Rocket stands up from where they fired the pellet, and rush to the next area, a 45 degree uphill run. Dario still has the lead, but the rest of the pack are not far behind, except for Squirtle, who is exhausted and slowly trudging up the hill. On the way down, the Electrode's spherical shape makes it roll faster, and it starts to pull ahead. Suddenly, he and his trainer fall into a hole dug by none other than Team Rocket, and Dario again takes the lead. As Ash and a few other riders ride by, the Electrode uses Explosion, destroying the area, and knocking out Ponyta and two other racers, a Sandslash and a Raticate. Pikachu approaches, and shocks Ponyta and Ash back to consciousness. They start up again, but have a rather large distance between them and the leader.
The next obstacle is a large lake with stepping stones all across. Dodrio quickly runs across, but Rhyhorn and Onix are forced to stop. Squirtle and Starmie quickly make it across, with Ponyta not far behind. Dodrio reaches the next obstacle first: a steep decline with bowls of Pokémon food to eat. Dodrio reaches one, but the three heads start to squabble about who gets to start first. Starmie, Squirtle, and Ponyta arrive, and start to eat, when Dario calls to Team Rocket to do they're thing. Black smoke covers the area, and the people sitting in the stadium can't see a thing on the monitor. As the smoke clears on the course, Team Rocket finally makes they're presence known and say their motto. It dawns on Ash that they were the one's who caused Laura to break her arm, and they apologize, not meaning it, of course. Ash has Pikachu and Squirtle attack, but they are paralyzed by Arbok's Glare attack. Starmie is put out of commission by Weezing's Sludge attack, so it's all up to Ash and Ponyta. Dodrio starts running down the hill, and Ash figures out how Dario had employed Team Rocket to help him win. Misty tells Ash to continue on, but Arbok attacks with a Poison Sting. Just as he is about to contact, Ponyta flares up his flames, frightening Arbok. Weezing uses his Poison Gas attack, but the flammable gas catches fire and Weezing blows up, sending Team Rocket blasting off again.
The picture on the monitor finally comes back, and the spectators see that Dodrio is still in the lead. They then see a huge ball of flames rapidly approaching. The announcer tells the audience how the race is just down to the Ponyta and Dodrio, and Ponyta catches up to Dodrio. He is about to pass Dario, when he has one of Dodrio's heads peck at Ponyta, making him fall back again. Suddenly, Ponyta starts to flash, and he evolves into the fastest Pokémon in the entire world, Rapidash. He catches up to Dodrio once again, and beats him by a nose, literally. The crowd goes wild, and Dario accuses Ash of cheating. He has Dodrio attack Rapidash, but he kicks Dodrio, hurling both Pokémon and rider into the air. The crowd cheers, and Laura praises Ash, telling him that he'll make an excellent trainer. Rapidash agrees, licking Ash. Laura tells him to go to the Safari Zone to catch more Pokémon.
Later, Dario yells at Team Rocket, saying that they were the reason he lost. Jessie and James give him some suggestions as to how to win next year, and Meowth adds that Dodrio needs a bath. Dodrio, insulted, starts to peck at them.