Jonesing for the Roses

I don't like to pick one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby.  I prefer to hone in on a well-bred longshot, and then to have my hopes and dreams dashed as my picks straggle in fourth or fifth... or nineteenth.

But in recent years, I've had a feeling about a few horses. And I've almost felt guilty, because they were the consensus picks... the crowd favorites.  In the case of Big Brown (SRO), I legitimately loved his pedigree.  And I'm a fan of Smile (pedigree), which led me to Smarty Jones (SRO).  I had a feeling about Street Sense (SRO) since watching him as a juvenile (and oh boy do I love that double of Natalma...).  Still, it's more fun to pick a longshot than to go with the favorite.

I think I'm doomed again this year, though.  Much as I like the pedigrees and performances of some other possible Derby contestants, I just know that this is the year of Larry Jones.  And Jones has two of the most likely favorites come the first Saturday in May.

It couldn't happen to a better guy -- Larry Jones is a top-class trainer and a great representative of the Thoroughbred industry -- so I think I can live with it.  Especially since both of his big horses are pretty interesting themselves:

  • Friesan Fire (profile) has a pedigree pattern that I love -- inbreeding to Secretariat as the damsire of both the sire and broodmare sire.  Friesan Fire is a son of A.P. Indy (SRO) out of a mare from the Deputy Minister son Dehere (SRO)... he's bred to get a distance while still burning up the track with fast fractions. (Can you imagine if Friesan Fire takes the Derby and the Preakness -- the Belmont would be a mere formality for this bay colt.)  His 2-c female family is one of the hottest dam lines in Australia right now, as well -- Bollinger (AUS) was herself winner of the Coolmore Classic (Aus-I) and is one of three graded winners out of 1993 Tooheys Golden Slipper Stakes (Aus-I) winner Bint Marscay (AUS).  Bint Marscay, in turn, was one of three group I winners produced by the Sir Tristam mare Eau d'Etoile (NZ).  Jones has brought Friesan Fire along perfectly with increased distances and a schedule that has been challenging without being punishing.

  • Old Fashioned (profile) is by a stallion that seems to be everywhere now -- "everywhere" here being defined as the pedigrees of sales-topping 2-year-olds and big stakes winners.  Unbridled's Song (SRO) passed on his signature grey coat to Old Fashioned, but the bottom half of the pedigree is what excites me for the colt's Derby chances.  Meadowlake (from the Prince John line), Alleged (Tom Rolfe), Bold Ruler (Nasrullah), and Ambiorix (Tourbillon (FR)) are the first four damsires in Old Fashioned's lineage -- all add substance and the ability to get a route to Unbrided's Song's dizzying speed and finesse.  The 4-m family plays a prominent role here:  it's the broodmare line of both Old Fashioned's sire and dam -- although you have to go back to Maggie B B in 1867 to find their common origin.  (I noted a similar circumstance with Request for Parole and Proud Spell in an old post about Thoroughbred female family #4.)  Jones gave Old Fashioned the winter off after a solid juvenile campaign that included the nine-furlong grade II Remsen Stakes by seven lengths. It would appear that the colt can cover some ground, and his three-length score in the Southwest (gr. III) in mid-February indicates he's come back from his rest in fine form.

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Blue Blue Sea

Larry Jones is simply an awesome trainer. I totally agree with you there, and I hated what happened to him last year. I rooted for his Hard Spun two years ago. A Derby win surely couldn't happen to a more deserving trainer. It makes me a tad guilty to root against him since neither of his horses are my top picks, but I like them both (Like FF a bit better) and would not be disappointed to see him in the winner's circle.

05 Mar 2009 11:54 AM
BlueHen

It'd be a real nice reversal of fortune for Jones to celebrate a Derby victory this year.

05 Mar 2009 4:02 PM
TerriV

Larry Jones is a trainer who cares deeply for his horses and if anyone deserves a huge dose of good luck it is definitely Larry.  Hard Spun was my favorite in 2007 and I could only admire the grit and determination of both horse and trainer to fight so hard in all three triple crown races.  Watching the video of him with Eight Belles still brings me to tears.  Both of these are wonderful horses and I hope this is his year, even though there are some other horses that have caught my attention too.

05 Mar 2009 4:22 PM
LouisQ

Larry Jones would be a well deserved winner of the Derby ( am I required to say presented by Yum! brands).  Hard Spun was my fav, never backing off from competing with the best.  Larry faced the media firing squad after the Eight Belles tragedy with class. OF or FF, either one is capable and we'll know they'll both be ready to rumble - Larry's horses always are.  

05 Mar 2009 4:56 PM
ctgreyhound

If Larry Jones makes good on his promise, this Kentucky Derby will be his swan song. There could be no better ending than to have a horse in his charge win this race of races.  In this emotional moment it is hard to determine who is most deserving of the honor - the horse or the trainer.

05 Mar 2009 6:37 PM
Justine

Larry Jones is one of the best and most gracious people in this sport and while I will continue to root for the California horses I will be cheering for him if/when one of the aforementioned heavy hitters coasts home first.

I find Friesan Fire more fascinating because of the Australian bloodlines in his pedigree.

05 Mar 2009 6:52 PM
Tracy W.

Eight Belles was my pick last year and it broke my heart when she fell. Still, what hurt even more was knowing that it barely compared to what Jones went through after how close he became with that filly. Only the best trainers can deal with the onslaught he endured in 2008, and he was completely deserving of the standing ovation he received at the Eclipse Awards.

In my Derby picks this year, I lean slightly towards OF (probably because he reminds me a little of Belle, unfortunately), but this may be the first year I pick a trainer instead of a horse. I don't care who wins, so long as Jones is the trainer. He deserves it the most of anyone.

05 Mar 2009 7:55 PM
Geno

Honesty, Integrity, Class, and Horsemanship only begin to define the nature and substance of Larry Jones.  He's the sort of person we all strive to become in life.  

05 Mar 2009 8:40 PM
marci

Our young people today do not have many role models for professionalism, bravery and strength. Watching Mr. Jones brave the storm of last year with such grace is something all of us can use as an example of conduct. His grandchildren are truly blessed to see him come home. I hope you are not gone for long, Mr. Jones. Horesracing needs you!

06 Mar 2009 6:16 AM
SusanW

Well said, Marci and Geno. No matter what horse is your favorite, I think we will all be cheering and crying if we see Larry Jones where he belongs, in the winner's circle with the roses on the first Saturday in May.

06 Mar 2009 11:31 AM
MRO

I'm a huge Friesan Fire fan, and Larry Jones is pretty OK too.

06 Mar 2009 1:20 PM
sheila

Yep, I would love to see Larry take the Derby as his swan song. Last year, after Eight Belles went down, he reminded me of Frank Whiteley (RIP) after Ruffian's breakdown. Two wonderful horsemen.

I like both of the boys, too. Good pedigrees and everyone has a shot until someone hits the wire!

06 Mar 2009 6:34 PM
belles forever

everyone here has so elequently described my feelings on this subject.it would be great to see an unbridleds song win the roses.eight belles was my fav last year..she still runs in my heart.i also like fresian fire but i sure would like to see a grey wearing red

06 Mar 2009 9:57 PM
needler in Virginia

We can only hope that eventually the good guys DO get to finish first. Larry Jones is one of the best, and if the crap he had to take in 2008 made him think about, and announce, his quitting, it must have been horrendous. To make THIS guy leave training? My God, can you imagine what sort of trash he got? If it were me, I would make sure my horses were trained up to run 1/2 all the way through the Triple Crown, and then give the finger to all those who said and wrote nasty things last year!

I'm pulling for The 'Mousse ( I just gotta love that horse!) but I'm damned if I can find one good (or bad) reason to cheer against Mr Jones and his stable. Actually, I'm hoping for a dead heat with The 'Mousse, FF and OF inseparable. Now THAT would go a long way towards giving racing a good face!!

Let's hear it for the good guys....they are so few and so special that we need to keep them around to remind us why we love this sport.......

AND BEST OF LUCK TO MR JONES AND HIS HORSES; MAY THEY ALL BE SAFE.

06 Mar 2009 11:31 PM
MDFANOFRACING

Larry Jones is indeed a class act. I was on Hard Spuns wagon before he turned 3. What a classy colt, he never gave up. Apparently that determination has made him the second most sought after stallion at Darley only behind Street Cry.

I heard Hard Spuns first foal was a 130 pound colt. WOW.

As thrilling as Hard Spun was to watch, so was Eight Belles. She was a beautiful girl who tragically, left us much too soon. My heart broke for the Jones's, Rick Porter, her fans and especially poor Gabe Siaz.  It would be devine retribution if Larry could get the win this year with Old Fashioned. I have always loved Unbridleds Song, so yes it would be great to see one of his babies win the Derby. Friesan Fire is a nice colt too, I just have a particular liking for Unbridleds Song.

That being said, I also like Desert Party, The Pamplemousse and General Quarters. Im betting on an all gray trifacta in the Derby.

07 Mar 2009 5:14 AM
Carolyn in ND

I can hardly wait for it to come out!  A home town fella having a movie made about him!  Awesome!  Edgar Cayce was a celebrity from Hopkinsville too!  

07 Mar 2009 8:42 PM
For Big Red

I really like Fresian Fire. What I've seen of him has impressed me so far, and I agree that his pedigree stamps him as a horse who should take to the classic distances.

09 Mar 2009 2:24 PM
2 time valley player of the year

too bad Larry didn't run Hrad spun on grass at least 1 time. His sire Danzig has produced so many outstanding turf horses and ata mile the spun would have been awesome. The mile and a quarter was just too much for him on dirt. turf would have been a different.Can the fire geta mile and a q , his pedigree says no but he has surprised us so far , hope he has a great out on Saturday.

09 Mar 2009 6:00 PM
For Big Red

TO THE PERSON WHO WRITES THIS BLOG: I wonder if you might consider writing an analysis of the Tiznow-Peppers Pride mating. I'm a fan of both the stallion and the mare, so am highly interested in your perspective.

I've read Tiznow's pedigree overview on the WinStar Farm website. It notes that, although he does not demonstrate "a broad affinity for the Mr. Prospector line," it sugggests breeding mares with Fappiano in their pedigrees to Tiznow. It also suggests mares with Blushing Groom be considered.

Although the pedigree of Peppers Pride is not a fashionable one, her sire is royally bred by Fappiano out of a Blushing Groom mare.

  • Scot's reply:  Thanks for the suggestion!  You'll probably be interested in this post if you haven't already seen it:  Who Should Peppers Visit?  It's one of the most popular articles on the TrueNicks blog.  It was written before the decision was announced to send Peppers Pride to Tiznow -- but he was one of the popular picks by the blog's readers!  Alan Porter also has a comment within the blog where he discusses the potentials of a Tiznow-Peppers Pride match.
10 Mar 2009 5:52 PM
Sam Anderer

Only an EKG would tell if the Big Red Machine passed on his tremendous heart size through the females to Friesan Fire.

And of course, the lineage of Old Fashioned has the heart size factor present.  Unfortunately, no one talks about it.  Then there are those interesting mathematical measurements, involving triangles.

Have to wonder how  these colts and fillies stand up to Secretariat's measurements.  Then I remind myself that I may not see another like him in what is the remainder of my life time.  These comments are not to start a firestorm.  I do not disparage Cigar, Seattle Slew, or any of those who came after.

11 Mar 2009 12:51 AM
SQ

I am really rooting for Mr. Jones. I was at the Derby last year and it was absolutely Heartbreaking! I think OF will take it, I like a grey horse this year!!

12 Mar 2009 2:37 PM
sgillies

Like Larry Jones?  He's the next guest on Talkin' Horses, where the interview consists of reader-submitted questions.

19 Mar 2009 2:31 PM
The Five-Cross Files

What's better than listening to an interview with training great Larry Jones? Having him answer YOUR questions!

20 Mar 2009 8:39 AM
The Five-Cross Files

Kentucky Derby hopeful Desert Party has a re-emerging female family, the world's most prominent racing stable -- and maybe the most important sire at stud today.

02 Apr 2009 12:18 PM
Maria Michalak

I'm always late in getting to the blogs, but this made me smile. I sure do hope this is the year of Larry and Cindy Jones! I hope that all of heaven smiles down on both of them on Derby day, and always after.

No one deserves a special victory on May 2nd more than they do!

If the world had more people with hearts, faith, strength, courage, and integrity even a 1/4 the size of Larry and Cindy Jones', the world would be a much better place.

Come on, Friesan Fire! I hope he leaves the rest of the field in the dust on the first Saturday in May.

15 Apr 2009 11:23 AM

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