Friesan Fire burned up the track April 27 at Churchill Downs, working five furlongs in a blazing :57 4/5 during his final serious move before the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I). Wearing red and white blinkers and carrying jockey Gabriel Saez, the 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy turned in splits of :11 1/5, :22 1/5, :33 3/5, and 45:1/5. Friesan Fire galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.
Owned by his breeder, Dr. Tom Simon’s Vinery Stables, and Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, Friesan Fire was among 26 horses that worked five furlongs at Churchill, and he was the fastest of them all. Larry Jones trains the bay colt and is preparing him for the Derby much in the same way he conditioned Hard Spun (who raced for Porter) prior to that runner's second-place finish in 2007.
“The work might have been perceived as a little quick based on traditional times, but Friesan Fire did it so well and within himself,” Vinery general manager Tom Ludt said. “Gabe wasn’t really (urging) him, so we’re as happy as can be. Gabe thought he went in a minute. When he hooked up with Larry, he said, ‘What did I do, boss? A minute?’ so he thought he was going easy.”
In his final work prior to the Derby, Hard Spun went five furlongs in :57 3/5 while working in company with stablemate Wildcat Bettie B.
“As of the Monday before the Derby, we’re happy,” Jones said following Friesan Fire’s effort. “He had a good, long work at Keeneland the other day, which was quite a bit faster than Hard Spun had done. Then he came back and was only a tick off of what Hard Spun did here, plus I worked Hard Spun in company.
"This horse (Friesan Fire) was doing it by himself. He’s telling me we’ve done right. You can look at him and tell. He’s kind of glistening all over. I think he’s ready, and hopefully, if this works for the Derby, then we’re going to be in really good shape for the Triple Crown, because we’ll have a fresher horse than most everybody else.”
Friesan Fire hasn’t raced since cruising to a 7 1/4-length victory in the March 14 Louisiana Derby (gr. II). Hard Spun’s last pre-Derby race also was in March, when he scored in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II).
“I was over there on the front side, and it didn’t look like he was working that hard to be honest with you,” Ludt said of Friesan Fire. “I would have never have believed he went in :57 4/5. He’s doing fine. He didn’t drink all that much water. He’s feeling good.
"I heard he kind of went off quick on the back – it’s kind of hard to see with those tents (in the infield) – but he did what we wanted, and that’s all that we can ask for. He looked great. He galloped out fine, but I’ve never felt so nervous in my life before a work.”
Produced from the Dehere mare Bollinger, Friesan Fire has captured four of his seven career races and has earned $603,265.
“He has been such a professional,” Ludt said. “He has gotten better and better every race, and he’s just eating this up. He’s a ham, and he seems to be handling everything perfectly. I’ve got nothing to complain about, which is a little scary. He’s doing super. We can’t ask for anything else now except for a good post position and a good break.”