DERBY CONTENDER PROFILE
Many horseplayers and fans were astounded to discover that trainer LArry Jones will be retiring at the end of 2009. The trainer has finished second in the past two Kentucky Derbies, and was just reaching the top of his class. Some may attribute his retirement to the loss of the tough filly Eight Belles. Jones was unfairly barraged with criticism after the freak accident which was no fault of his own. He will saddle Friesan Fire on the first Saturday in May and stands a great chance to ride off into the sunset with a win.
Friesan Fire is a product of ultra hot sire A.P. Indy. His stud fee is a massive $250,000. A.P. Indy has produced runners like 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini and 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches. A.P. Indy was sired by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and will go down as one of the most prolific studs of his time. There is also strength on the mares side with miler Dehere.
LArry Jones saddles a lot of horses at Delaware Park, and that is where Friesan Fire saw his first career start and victory. Friesan Fire won first out in maiden special weight company going 6 furlong under veteran jockey Terry Thompson. He took that event by 3 lengths. The connections had to have known from that moment this horse was going to be a great racer; he earned an 81 BSF for that win!
The son of A.P. Indy would return to finish third behind Charitable Man in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park. That race was his first with lasix and the only time in which he closed from the back of the pack, coming from seventh. His BSF for that performance was an 85. His next trip to the track resulted in a lackluster Fourth in the Grade 3 Nashua at one mile. He would race just one more time as a two-year-old, finishing second in an allowance race as the heavy favorite.
Charlie Whittingham said that horses are like grapes; they can go bad overnight. That is true, but so is the opposite. While Friesan Fire was good to begin with, he improved severely over the winter. His three-year-old campaign began in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grouds. He was sent off the favorite and did not disappoint. He stalked close to the pace, and beat second place finisher Patena by 1 ¼ lengths under Gabriel Saez en route to a career best BSF of 94.
At this point in his career, Friesan Fire was well known. He was one of those horses that might or might not be the real thing. His next race would tell us all that we needed to know about him. That race was the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes. Saez sat just off the pace in Fourth and took over as they hit the stretch. He was clearly the best and earned a BSF of 97.
Friesan Fires last win in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby was easily his most impressive. He romped home by 7 ¼ lengths in the slop. Saez sat in second just behind pacesetter and eventual Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem. He was already in front by 2 lengths when they hit the stretch, but accelerated rapidly towards the wire. LArry Joness colt earned a great BSF of 104 for that win and showed us that he is still on the improve.
LArry Jones likes to send his horses to the Kentucky Derby with a fast five furlong workout. He worked Hard Spun in :57 and change before he finished second in 2007, and sent Friesan Fire in :57 4/5 this year. That work was rated 1/26. If you like Friesan Fire to win the Kentucky Derby, you will get your moneys worth!
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