Tag Archives: Friesan Fire

THE INFIELD OFFICIAL DERBY PICKS

After today’s Oaks win by Rachel, the Derby has a tough act to follow. 

1.  PIONEEROF THE NILE:  This colt has been so good that he has overcome his name and found a place at the top of my list.  Bob Baffert was just elected to the Hall of Fame in Saratoga, which is good luck for those trainers with Derby horses:  Neil Drysdale was elected the year FuPeg won, and D. Wayne Lukas was elected the year Charismatic won.  Steve Haskin says the PNile had the best workout at CD and was the best-looking contender in terms of coat condition and attitude.  On track, the son of Empire Maker has done nothing wrong, except not race on dirt.  But the way he looked in his CD workouts put my questions to rest.  He has shown that he can win off the pace, or up on it, as he did in the freaky running of the Santa Anita Derby.  He has already beaten I Want Revenge twice, Chocolate Candy twice, Papa Clem and Mr. Hot Stuff.  He breaks from post 16, not bad for his usual closing style.  Garret Gomez chose PNile over Dunkirk, and I think he made the right choice.  Jon White says he will win the whole Triple Crown if he can capture this first jewel.    I won’t go that far.  Yet.

2. I WANT REVENGE :  Got out of Cali to avoid PNile and became the Morning Line Favorite by his brilliance on dirt.  TV star jockey Joe Talamo will ride the near-black colt, which will pull some bets in from the teenybopper set.  I Want Revenge has shown speed, heart and stamina with his wins in NY.  Trainer Jeff Mullins has won big stakes before, and owners IEAH have lived the Derby dream before, with Big Brown.

3.  GENERAL QUARTERS:  He is the sentimental favorite with the heartwarming story.  He is also a gritty competitor who has been versatile on a variety of surfaces. 

4. PAPA CLEM:  Can’t leave out the Arkansas Derby winner — beat Old Fashioned in a thrilling stretch duel.

5. FRIESAN FIRE:  If it’s a sloppy track, this son of AP Indy will be dangerous.  The Larry Jones trainee has been consistent all year.  He has never run over 1 1/16 miles, however, and the 7-week layoff is worrisome.

Longshots that I will play in my exotics: CHOCOLATE CANDY… REGAL RANSOM … DUNKIRK … and whoever else I get a hankering about before Derby.

GOOD LUCK, PLAYERS!  COME HOME SAFE, COLTS!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Assume The Position

Friesan Fire has the best PP of the possible favorites, breaking from the 6 hole. It also looks like a rainy Derby Day (again), which will be even better for the Larry Jones trainee.

In post 15, Dunkirk will have a lot of work to do, but the auxillary gate won’t hurt his closing style too much, that is, if he isn’t the overrated allowance winner I think he is.

I Want Revenge will break from the “lucky” 13 hole, not where I’d like him. Young jock Joe Talamo will have his work cut out guiding the colt through the 20-horse gauntlet.

Pioneerof The Nile breaks from gate 16. Only 3 other winners have started at that spot, that last being Monarchos in 2001. Charismatic and Thunder Gulch are the others.

General Quarters got post #12. I like this horse; he is versatile on a variety of surfaces and has a great story with his retired HS teacher owner.

Horses with good posts that I will have to take another look at include Advice in #3, Papa Clem in #7, Regal Ransom in #10 and Chocolate Candy in #11.

Desert Party got shafted with the #19 post — no horse has ever won from that piece of gate real estate.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE PLOT THICKENS

The Kentucky Derby is less than 3 weeks away, and I am so stoked over this year’s contenders that I practically twitter myself into a pool of rose-scented goo every Saturday when I watch the preps.  But you wouldn’t know that reading this blog, because life and work and school have trampled the Infield lately.  Here’s my take on the latest Derby headlines: 

OLD FASHIONED, my #1 Derby pick back on January 1 has been RETIRED!  GAahhh!  The grey colt with the white tail ran a fabulous pace-setting race in the Arkansas Derby, and nearly ran away with the whole shebang.  In the shadow of the wire, California invader PAPA CLEM got his head in front and drew off to a half-length victory.  PAPA CLEM was trying dirt for the first time and will be going to the Derby.  OLD FASHIONED suffered a knee injury during the race.  Today, owner Rick Porter announced the colt’s surgery went well, but he will never be able to race again at the top level, so Porter has sent him off to stud!  WOW.  That’s the Derby Gods for ya.  I still think Larry Jones will win the Derby — he’s still got Freisan Fire for this year.

Meanwhile, GENERAL QUARTERS ran off with the Blue Grass Stakes and will enter the Kentucky Derby the Sentimental Favorite.  GQ is the one horse in the one horse stable owned by Tom McCarthy, a former high school teacher.  McCarthy does all of the training and grooming for his star, too.  He is living every racing fan’s dream of having a colt good enough to make the field in the Derby.  You can’t overlook outsiders like General Quarters in Derby picks — remember Funny Cide?

   THE PAMPLEMOUSSE scratched out of the Santa Anita Derby because of tendon problems, totally deflating my early Derby enthusiasm.  I really wanted to see that colt in the Derby, you have no idea how much.  He will be out for the year recuperating, but the connections plan to bring him back to the races.  I will be eagerly awaiting his return.

I WANT REVENGE won the Wood Memorial last weekend in an impressive performance on a sloppy track.  The colt split horses in deep stretch and drew off with powerful acceleration.  He is dangerously good on dirt and will probably be the morning line favorite on May 2.  IEAH has done a swell job replicating their Big Brown success, and they appear poised to defend their roses.

QUALITY ROAD is the top Florida colt, having won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby in scintillating fashion.  He’s fast up front or just off the pace.  He soundly defeated Dunkirk, who will make it in the Derby though I don’t think he belongs (he may be Todd Pletcher’s 4th last-place finisher in a row).

Who do I think will win the Derby?  The horse who has beaten Papa Clem and I Want Revenge, who had to run out of his comfort zone and set the pace in the Santa Anita Derby, who is by a Belmont-winning sire and who is trained by a man who’s seen the winners’ circle three times before:  PIONEEROF THE NILE

I’ll have more to blog about the contenders in the weeks to come, as well as the Infield itself!

Leave a comment

Filed under Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby, results

INFIELD DERBY LIST 2.0!

1. Old Fashioned (1)

2. Pioneerof The Nile (8)

3. Friesan Fire (new!)

4. Haynesfield (new!)

5. Capt. Candyman Can (new!)

6. The Pamplemousse (new!)

7. Chocolate Candy (new!)

8. Poltergeist (new!)

9. Hello Broadway (new!)

10. Imperial Council (7)

Off The List: Square Eddie (injury), Midshipman & Vineyard Haven (Dubai, could resurface), Beethoven, Breakwater Edison, Well Positioned, Charitable Man (injury)

Lots of changes since the first list Jan. 1.  Old Fashioned remains at the top until he runs next Monday.  Pioneerof The Nile moves up a bunch off of his impressive Bob Lewis effort, and would be #1 if he was a known dirt commodity.  The rest of the list is made up of newcomers.  Friesan Fire has been the strongest 3yo in the South so far, taking the 2 stakes at Fairgrounds and learning how to settle.  Haynesfield is tearing it up at Aqueduct, but distance questions surround him with that sprinter sire.  Capt. Candyman Can looked great winning the Hutcheson.  The Pamplemousse is probably #2 in California, with Chocolate Candy close behind.  Poltergeist is an intriguing allowance winner at Oaklawn looking to prove himself in stakes company.  Hello Broadway is always in the race.  Imperial COuncil is working well and needs to make a start pretty soon; his potential is what is keeping him on the list.

All of the unfortunate list-droppers could make it back in the top 10 with a good effort.  Vineyard Haven makes his 3yo debut in Dubai on Thursday, and if he is still as dominant as he was last year then he’ll be back on the list next week.  Square Eddie is out with sore shins but can rejoin the list if he recovers quickly.  At least four 3yo stakes this weekend means there could be more movementon the list.  Also, ROAD TO THE ROSES is OPEN for ENTRIES!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Churchill Downs, Derby Prepes, Handicapping, Kentucky Derby, lists

WEEKEND DERBY PREPS: Better than a Groundhog

Pioneerof The Nile relives his narrow Cashcall Futurity to return victorious in the Bob Lewis.

Pioneerof The Nile relives his narrow Cashcall Futurity to return victorious in the Bob Lewis.

Today the weather was actually not hellatious.  It was right near enjoyable.  Perfect for a trio of Derby Preps!

Close to home at the Fairgrounds, Friesan Fire lit up the Risen Star stakes with a strong performance that shoots him into the Derby picture.  Despite being rank early, the Larry Jones trainee raced close up to an honest pace set by It Happened Again.  Jockey Gabriel Saez sent Friesan Fire to the lead at the top of the lane and the colt drew off by 3.  It was a sweet effort that proves this colt is a real contender.  And he’s the second fiddle three year old in Jones’s barn!  I have high expectations for Old Fashioned Feb 16.  

Up in NY, Haynesfield won the Whirlaway at Aqueduct in an awesome wire-to-wire parade route.  The son of Speightstown was unchallenged the whole way around and finished up about 7 in front.  I have doubts about his distance capabilites, though the Whirlaway is 1 1/6th miles, far from a sprint.  He has the class to go forward and we’ll just see how that turns out in the Gotham next month.  The biggest delight was the sunny skies and fast track up at Aqueduct, which is normally a drab scene in February.  Forget the groundhog, Haynesfield says we’re having an early spring.

Finally, Pioneerof The Nile emerged as the top Derby contender in the West with his win in the Bob Lewis Stakes.  (I’m going to start calling this colt PNiles, after Tiger bigman Pierre Henderson-Niles)  PNiles overcame horrendous traffic and closed like a jailhouse door to take the Lewis by a neck.  It was an exciting, gutsy performance by the Baffert trainee.  Though my sources say PNiles will stay out west until Derby day, it would sure be nice to see how he’ll handle the real dirt before May.  Also, if we have a TC on the line again this year, let me make my prediction now: Pioneerof The Nile will be the spoiler, just like his Dad, EMpire Maker.

I am formulating my Derby List and should have it ready to post next week sometime.  The Sam F. Davis and El Camino Real are the Valentine’s Day preps next saturday, and I will have some sweet picks for them Friday.  Also, I may be shooting up the highway to Hot Springs sooner rather than never — stay tuned!

Leave a comment

Filed under Aqueduct, Derby Prepes, Fairgrounds Race Course, Graded Stakes, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita