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Feb 20, 2009

No brag just fact

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - No brag just fact that trainer Larry Jones has the top two Kentucky Derby contenders right now. The Kentucky native who races out of Delaware Park most of the year, sent out Old Fashioned on Monday for the colt's first start of the year.

Jones also trains Risen Star Stakes champ Friesan Fire who has gotten a lot of respect this year with his impressive wins at the Fair Grounds. In the just completed first Kentucky Derby Future Wager Friesan Fire was 18-1 and Old Fashioned was bet down to 7-1 in the pool.

Old Fashioned, owned by Fox Hill Farms, was given a rest after winning the Remsen Stakes in November at Aqueduct. He was held out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but is now the early favorite for the Run for the Roses.

Heading into the Southwest, Old Fashioned received plenty of pre-race hype and proved worthy of the excitement. The gray colt broke sharply from the gate with jockey Ramon Dominguez. He settled into second behind pacesetter Silver City.

The 1-2 favorite tracked the leader up the backstretch, beginning his move on the far turn. The two colts were on even terms around the turn for home. Old Fashioned drew away at the top of the stretch ans went on to post a 3 1/4- length victory.

"This horse is truly blessed," stated Jones following the race. "He stays fit. We weren't looking to go out in :45, but he showed he was a lot fitter than we thought. He is a gift and we will play it day by day. With a horse like this you don't want to take any chances."

"After a two and a half month layoff, Larry Jones couldn't have prepared Old Fashioned any better for his 2009 debut," owner Rick Porter noted on his website. "He settled in nicely for Ramon chasing tough fractions, but showed his stuff when he turned for home. He did everything Larry wanted."

Old Fashioned's next start will be the $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park followed by Oaklawn's $1 million Arkansas Derby. Oaklawn's Kentycky Derby prep races have become important stepping stones leading to the first Saturday in May.

Smarty Jones won all three races in 2004 before capturing the Derby and in 2005 Afleet Alex rebounded from finishing last in the Rebel to win the Arkansas Derby on his way to a third in the Run for the Roses and winning both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire won't meet until the Kentucky Derby, as long as they both continue to race well and stay healthy. Friesan Fire has shown the ability to be placed anywhere during a race, something his stablemate still must display.

After having the runners-up the last two Kentucky Derbies, Larry Jones and Fox Hill Farms have an excellent chance to pick up the exacta in this year's Run for the Roses.

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