Grade II winner Friesan Fire.

Grade II winner Friesan Fire.

Lou Hodges Jr.

Friesan Fire on the Comeback Trail

The 3-year-old A.P. Indy colt could return in the fall.

Vinery Stables’ and Fox Hill Farm’s Friesan Fire , who was diagnosed with a pair of leg injuries after the Preakness (gr. I), is back in training and targeting a comeback later this fall. Who his trainer will be, however, is unclear at this time.

A 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy—Bollinger, by Dehere, Friesan Fire has worked twice since being returned to training, breezing three furlongs both times at Vinery’s training center near Ocala, Fla. The bay colt, who finished next to last as the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) favorite, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his front left leg and a non-displaced chip fracture in his right front fetlock shortly after his 10th-place finish in the May 16 Preakness. He began his rehabilitation at Vinery’s Lexington facility and was then sent to Florida.
“He’s doing well,” said Vinery general manager Tom Ludt. “He showing all the signs of a successful comeback. We haven’t decided where his first race back will be, but it will probably be sometime this fall. He’ll have about three more breezes before we ship him to the trainer.”
Larry Jones has trained the multiple graded stakes winner in all of his nine lifetime starts and is still listed as the official trainer. But Jones, who is planning to retire at the end of the year, was not sure if he would be getting the horse back when contacted on Sept. 18. Earlier in the week, Jones was informed that another of his trainees, Kodiak Kowboy, also owned by Vinery and Fox Hill Farm, would be going back to the barn of Steve Asmussen, who was the original trainer of the 4-year-old son of Posse.
“That kind of took me by surprise because I was told that I would train (Kodiak Kowboy) up to the Cigar Mile (gr. I, Nov. 28 at Aqueduct),” said Jones. “Then I was told he was going back to Steve Asmussen.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Friesan Fire. The original plan was for me to train him next year. He was the only horse I was going to have in my barn. I would stay retired, other than to train Friesan Fire. Now, I’m not sure. I might be retiring earlier than I thought.”
When asked on Sept. 19, Ludt said a decision regarding Friesan Fire’s trainer has not yet been made.
“As far as Kodiak Kowboy, Tom Simon (Vinery’s owner), Rick Porter (Fox Hill’s owner), and myself, sat down and mutually decided that he would go back to Steve for his final two races,” Ludt said. “The plan is to send him to the Vosburgh (gr. I, Oct. 3 at Belmont) and then the Cigar Mile. After that, he’ll be retired (to Vinery). We all agreed it would be easier that way (since Kodiak Kowboy is already in New York and Asmussen has a stable there). I called Larry right after we decided that.
“The decision on Friesan Fire is a tough call. Larry is quasi-retired. He said he is willing to train him in 2010, but the owners are a little uneasy. I don’t want to speak for them, but I’m sure they want to make sure they have a full time commitment for next year.
“Larry has done a wonderful job for Vinery. He’s had three horses for us and they have all done well. But this is about the horse and what is best for him. We still have not made a decision yet.”
Friesan Fire won three consecutive graded stakes at Fair Grounds this year, capped by a 7 1/4-length romp in the March 14 Louisiana Derby (gr. II). Bred in Kentucky by Grapestock, he has earned more than $600,000 from a 4-1-1 record.