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‘Friesan’ good to go

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BALTIMORE | Kentucky Derby favorite Friesan Fire had the worst race of his life that day in Louisville, with a bumpy start and a few injuries leading to an 18th-place finish.

The left-front hoof issue and some cuts to his legs appeared to derail any chance he would be ready for the Preakness. But Friesan Fire spent the past few days allaying those concerns with positive workouts, and trainer Larry Jones said the colt will race Saturday in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

"I know when I galloped him the last two days he sure seemed like he was doing well," Jones said Tuesday morning. "We're very pleased."

With jockey Gabriel Saez aboard, Friesan Fire ran five furlongs in a brisk 58.40 seconds. Jones said it was just a chance for his horse to "stretch his legs and see if he came out of the Derby well."

It's looking more like he emerged from that race better than expected. The injury to Friesan Fire's foot, which appeared serious enough to delay his next race, didn't seem to be a factor Tuesday.

And Saez said he isn't worried about his or Friesan Fire's well-being coming out of the bad trip in the Derby.

"Stuff happens in races. It's all right. Not a big deal. Get 'em next time," Saez said. "The big deal is the horse is sound right now, and he handled the track really well."

'Papa', 'Drama' work out

Before Friesan Fire took to the track, two other probable Preakness entrants got their work in on the Pimlico dirt. Papa Clem ran five furlongs in a moderate time of 1:05, and Big Drama worked out at 6:30 a.m. for the second straight day.

Trainer Gary Stute said Papa Clem was fit and ready coming off a fourth-place finish in the Derby.

"I was hoping for a faster time, but [the purpose was to] just mainly get a feel of the track," he said. "This horse has never been a work horse. He's more of [a racing] horse."

Mine That arrival

Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday night after a 9 1/2-hour drive from Louisville, Ky. Trainer Chip Woolley drove his pickup truck with a trailer attached from Churchill Downs, receiving a police escort from Route 70 to the stakes barn.

General Quarters, Flying Private and Luv Guv also arrived at the track Wednesday. General Quarters had the roughest trip as the van he was traveling with was involved in a minor accident near Pimlico. Tom McCarthy, the horse's owner and trainer, said General Quarters was fine.

Blockade fallout

Plans by Pioneerof the Nile owner Ahmed Zayat and Mine That Bird co-owner Mark Allen to enter other horses in the Preakness to keep out filly Rachel Alexandra fizzled Sunday and Monday, leaving the other owners and trainers to ponder what the race would've been like without her.

Both Jones and Stute echoed a sentiment shared by Big Drama trainer David Fawkes that it would be beneficial to them if the Kentucky Oaks winner didn't race Saturday, but Stute said the reasoning probably wasn't to prevent a rare appearance by a filly.

"I don't think it's that it's men against women. It's more that she's that good," he said. "I think if she was a boy and that good they'd try to keep her out."