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Feb 13, 2009

Friesan Fire sets the standard for Kentucky Derby hopefuls

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The early going for three-year-olds being pointed to the Kentucky Derby has already established a level of quality that will be pretty hard to match. As I stated last month my choice for the Run for the Roses is Friesan Fire.

Friesan Fire impressed me with his stalking trip in the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Trained by Larry Jones, the colt was given a picture-perfect ride that day by Gabriel Saez.

This past Saturday Saez again was aboard Friesan Fire in the Risen Star Stakes in New Orleans. The pair settled in behind the pacesetter in the 13 horse field and never let the leader out of range.

On the turn for home Saez angled his mount out for racing room and hit the top of the stretch with no impediment. Friesan Fire drove strongly to the wire under Saez to post a two-length win over Flying Pegasus.

"I had horses on both sides of me," said Saez. "When it opened up, I ran past both those horses and kept the pressure on."

Both wins by Friesan Fire showed his tactical speed ability. Its obvious he can be placed anywhere during the running of a race and accelerate to the lead when needed.

"He's getting better each time he runs," said Jones. "We had some questions with him that had to be answered and he did that today (Saturday). Hopefully, it will be smooth sailing from now on. We still haven't gotten to the bottom of this horse, but we're going to shoot for the Louisiana Derby next month now."

The $600,000 Louisiana Derby will be Saturday, March 14.

The amazing thing is that Friesan Fire is not considered the top Kentucky Derby horse in the Jones stable. The undefeated Old Fashioned is the number- one three-year-old for Jones and owner Rick Porter. The colt is scheduled to make his 2009 debut on Monday in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Old Fashioned was perfect in his three starts last year, closing 2008 with a win in the Remsen Stakes. He has $173,280 in earnings, $120,000 in graded earnings from the Remsen victory.

Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard for the Remsen win. will return to ride Old Fashioned in the Southwest. Jones is keeping his two colts away from each other for now.

Larry Jones is currently on an interesting streak in the Kentucky Derby. He has saddled the last two horses to finish second in the Run for the Roses. In 2007 Hard Spun was second to Street Sense after winning the Lane's End Stakes.

Last year the filly Eight Belles was a distant second to Big Brown. However, tragedy struck shortly following the finish when Eight Belles suffered fractures of both her ankles. She was euthanized on track.

The two wishes for Larry Jones are for him to keep on winning, but more importantly, that his horses and riders remain safe and out of harm's way.



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