Friesan Fire and General Quarters, both starters in the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) and BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will make their 4-year-old debuts Jan. 23 at Fair Grounds while facing each other in the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap.
Both colts suffered injuries after the Preakness and were sidelined for an extended period. They each made their return to the track at Fair Grounds last month; Friesan Fire running third in an optional claimer on Dec. 3 and General Quarters finishing runner-up at the same level Dec. 26.
Friesan Fire, a son of A.P. Indy owned by Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm, went off as the Kentucky Derby favorite but finished next to last after experiencing a horrific trip. He came back two weeks later and finished 10th in the Preakness. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his front left leg and a non-displaced chip fracture in his right front fetlock.
Since his Triple Crown run, Friesan Fire has moved from the barn of the recently retired Larry Jones to Steve Asmussen. He began his rehabilitation at Vinery’s Lexington facility and was then sent to Florida. The bay colt lost by six lengths in his comeback last month.
A three-time graded stakes winner—all of them coming at Fair Grounds—Friesan Fire has earned $608,765 from 10 starts. He will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.
General Quarters, one of the “feel-good” stories from last year’s Triple Crown, finished 10th in the Derby and ninth in Preakness for owner/trainer Tom McCarthy, a retired Louisville school teacher, He had surgery to remove a chip from his right knee after the Preakness. In his Dec. 26 return, the son of Sky Mesa raced well when losing by only a half-length.
General Quarters burst onto the Derby scene last year when winning the Sam F. Davis (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs and then pulled 14-1 shocker in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. An earner of $651,535 from 14 starts, he will be ridden by Robby Albarado.
A field of seven was drawn for the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Handicap, which is one of six stakes on the Fair Grounds Jan. 23 card.