WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Jones Down To One Lone Derby Contender

Larry Jones has known plenty of
heartbreak at the Kentucky Derby. Now his hopes for a winner before
he retires rests with Friesan Fire.
The trainer's other contender, Old Fashioned, is off the Derby
trail after a knee injury was discovered following the colt's
second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday. Jones said
the injury - a slab fracture - was not life-threatening but could
end the horse's career.
Papa Clem took the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park by a
half-length over Old Fashioned. In Saturday's other big Kentucky
Derby prep, General Quarters won the Blue Grass Stakes at
Keeneland.
Jones trained Eight Belles, the filly euthanized last year just
beyond the finish of the Kentucky Derby. That was the second
straight year he was second at the Kentucky Derby - Hard Spun the
other runner-up.
Now this is Jones' last shot. He's retiring this year.
The 52-year-old trainer was poised to send two contenders to the
Run for the Roses on May 2 - Old Fashioned and Louisiana Derby
winner Friesan Fire.
Friesan Fire beat Papa Clem by 7¼ lengths last month in the
Louisiana Derby, so there was actually a silver lining for Jones
when Papa Clem edged Old Fashioned.
"That makes us feel that much better about Friesan Fire,"
Jones said.
Friesan Fire is unbeaten this year and is a major Derby
contender with Wood Memorial winner I Want Revenge, Santa Anita
Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile and Florida Derby winner Quality
Road.
It's unclear where Saturday's winners fit in. Papa Clem won for
the first time since December but hasn't finished worse than second
this year. General Quarters - purchased for a meager $20,000 last
year - bounced back after a fifth-place finish in the Tampa Bay
Derby last month.
General Quarters made a big move at the top of the stretch
Saturday, moving past Join in the Dance before holding off Hold Me
Back.
"Once he gets moving, he's like a big train - hard to stop,"
owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said.
Hold Me Back, winner of the Lane's End and second to General
Quarters on Saturday, looked fine following his second race in
three weeks and should be ready to go for the Derby.
English star Mafaaz may be held out of the Derby after finishing
eighth in the Blue Grass. Trainer John Gosden hinted the colt could
skip the Derby if he didn't think the horse could contend.
Assistant trainer Les Reynolds said he anticipated a decision soon.
Old Fashioned went off as the even-money favorite Saturday, his
longest odds since early November. He was the 2-5 favorite in the
Rebel last month but was upset by Win Willy for his first career
loss.
In what might have been his final race, Old Fashioned fought
gamely along the rail but came up short.
Old Fashioned led for much of the race, setting the early pace
and finishing the first quarter-mile in a brisk 22.65 seconds. At
that point, Papa Clem was fifth, 4½ lengths behind the leader.
"We had a little trouble on the first turn when my horse got
out, so I lost position and was wide," said Rafael Bejarano, Papa
Clem's jockey.
Papa Clem was able to make up that lost ground and overtake Old
Fashioned. The early pace seemed to benefit Summer Bird, who
rallied for third in the Arkansas Derby and could be a Belmont
Stakes entry.
"This is a big, good-looking colt who will run all day," said
Chris Rosier, Summer Bird's jockey. "He dug in that last
quarter."


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