Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Great Aussie Hope—Friesan Fire
While it’s premature for me to commit to a Kentucky Derby favorite, I must confess a strong attraction to Friesan Fire. First, Larry Jones is a trainer I much admire, and especially after last year’s tragic demise of Eight Belles and other disturbing incidents (such as the sponging of Maren’s Meadow), a Derby win would be much-deserved and well-received both within and outside the industry. Secondly, his sire A.P. Indy is doubtlessly a “super stud” except for one glaring omission—no Derby winner. Friesan Fire would be validation of his stamina influence over the more precocious speed horses popularized by Unbridled’s Song et al.
Finally, and perhaps most critically for me, I absolutely love Friesan Fire’s damline. In fact, if our friends Down Under ever desired a Derby contender most representative of their racing history, Friesan Fire would win hands-down. As Superfecta noted yesterday, he is the product of Australasian horse racing royalty.
His dam Bollinger (Dehere), trained by Gai Waterhouse, won five of eight starts, from 6 furlongs to one mile, including the 2003 G1 Coolmore Classic, the G2 Surround Stakes and G3 South Pacific Classic—all three within a month’s time. As a broodmare sire, Dehere is well represented by Midnight Lute in the U.S., but in Australia his daughters’ progeny include 2008 G1 Victoria Derby victor Rebel Raider and 2008 G2 Sires’ Produce winner Fravashi, as well as 2007 G1 Golden Slipper victress Forensics.
Bollinger’s siblings include the unraced Beam (Scenic) who’s produced four runners (all winners); G3 Blue Diamond Preview winner Sheraton (Woodman); and G1-placed mare Mannington (Danehill). Mannington’s son Benicio (More Than Ready), 2005 winner of the G1 Victoria Derby, sends his first crop to auction this spring, but it’s Mannington’s three-year-old daughter Romneya (Red Ransom) who has captured my heart. What a gutsy little filly! And little she is, but with a big heart. She’s earned four wins and four seconds in 10 starts, including winning the G3 Vanity Stakes on January 31.
Going back even further, Friesan Fire’s second dam Bint Marscay was champion two-year-old in Australia, a record-setting winner of the 1993 G1 Golden Slipper, and a half-sister to G1 Australian Guineas victor Kenny’s Best Pal (Bletchingly) and multiple-G1 winner Filante (Star Way). Another half-sister Temple Fire (Bletchingly) is the dam of Stella Cadente (Centaine), G1 William Reid Stakes and G2 Tea Rose Stakes winner.
Friesan Fire’s third dam Eau Detoile is the multiple G1-placed (Queensland Oaks, New Zealand Oaks) daughter of Sir Tristam, a champion sire who brings substantial stamina through his sire Sir Ivor, winner of the Grand Criterium, Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas, and Washington DC International. While most of Friesan Fire’s Aussie relatives have found success as sprinters, the A.P. Indy influence combined with the Sir Tristam indicates this colt should relish the Triple Crown distances. He's definitely in my top three at this point.