05/12/2009 12:00AM

Friesan Fire could bounce back

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Barbara D. Livingston
Friesan Fire, 18th in the Kentucky Derby, works a fast five furlongs Tuesday at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE - Friesan Fire was unable to add his name to the list of 52 favorites who won the Kentucky Derby. His trainer, Larry Jones, is hoping Friesan Fire can add his name to the more exclusive list of well-beaten Derby favorites that bounced back to win the Preakness.

Horses such as Snow Chief (1986), Hansel (1991), and Point Given (2001) were all beaten double-digit lengths as the Kentucky Derby favorite only to gain redemption two weeks later at Pimlico with scintillating victories in the Preakness. Even Louis Quatorze, who was beaten 23 lengths when 16th at 13-1 in the 1996 Derby, bounced back to equal the track record winning the Preakness.

"We're hoping we're going to be like one of them," Jones said Tuesday morning at Pimlico after watching Friesan Fire work a strong five furlongs in 58.54 seconds. "We feel a lot more confident today that our trip and the track had a lot more to do with our horse running bad than the horse. He's done too well."

In the Derby, Friesan Fire got bumped and jostled at the start and was slipping and sliding through the sloppy Churchill stretch the first time, trying to find a spot to run. He raced five-wide down the backside and began leaning on another horse at the half-mile pole. By the three-eighths pole, he was finished and jockey Gabriel Saez did not persevere. Friesan Fire finished 18th, beaten 42 1/2 lengths.

Moreover, Friesan Fire appeared to have suffered a significant injury to his left front foot, known as a grabbed quarter. He had the vet wrap from another horse, Pioneerof the Nile, stuck to the bottom of his left front shoe. Jones said that Friesan Fire also sustained cuts on his right leg. The foot was the most troublesome issue, but thanks to modern medicine - and a little good fortune - the foot has healed extremely fast.

Speaking of fast, Friesan Fire was just that in his Tuesday workout at Pimlico. With Saez aboard, but providing little urging, Friesan Fire went his first three furlongs in 34.70 seconds and got his final quarter in 23.84 while galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.90. The move was conducted following the renovation break during which the track was harrowed, watered, and harrowed again. The work came a little more than an hour after fellow Preakness starter Papa Clem worked a pedestrian five furlongs in 1:05.23.

"Larry said he wanted a good work and that's what I got, a good work," Saez said. "He came back fine, he's not breathing that hard, he didn't come back that tired. He galloped out really well. The main thing is the horse is sound right now and he handled the track really well."

Friesan Fire and Papa Clem were two of three horses that put in workouts Tuesday for the Preakness. At Monmouth Park, Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Musket Man worked four furlongs in 46.60 seconds.

Tuesday also marked the arrival of several Preakness starters from Louisville, including Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who left Churchill Downs by van shortly after 9 a.m. and arrived in Baltimore, led by a police escort, around 6:45 p.m.

Arriving earlier in the afternoon by van from Churchill were General Quarters and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Flying Private and Luv Gov.

Perhaps the most significant news of the day was that no new names surfaced as possible Preakness starters. That means, barring anything unforeseen at Wednesday's entry time, the filly Rachel Alexandra will get into what is expected to be a 13-horse field.

Friesan Fire's status for the Preakness wasn't a done deal until Tuesday's work. It was the first significant test for the colt's foot since the Derby. He had galloped under Jones on Sunday and Monday at Delaware Park before vanning to Baltimore.

"We had to keep a patch on him while we were training him to keep from irritating it," Jones said. "Today was the first day we've been able to go out and not put any kind of patch on it. I was very pleased with the way it's healed up. If you didn't know he had an issue, you wouldn't know it."

To accelerate the healing process, Jones used a product called Eclipse, a wound gel, on the injured area. Jones said the product is used by diabetic patients when they have wounds that won't heal. Jones said he used the product on his own index finger, which he sliced open one morning this spring at Oaklawn Park.

Jones also took a bit of a gamble by electing not to trim off the part of Friesan Fire's heel that was lacerated, which is routinely done.

"Most of the time it will shrivel up and continue to pull away and you wish you'd cut if off earlier," Jones said. "It's kind of one of those gambling deals - if it doesn't work you cost yourself time, if it does work then you've hit a home run. We took that gamble. It has adhered perfectly."

Slow move by Papa Clem

Until his sharp three-furlong blowout two days before the Kentucky Derby, Papa Clem had not impressed many observers in his training leading up to that race. Tuesday, it was more of the same as Papa Clem worked a slow five furlongs in 1:05.23, and he slowed down significantly in the stretch under Emundo Cedeno. His final quarter was 27.37 seconds.

Trainer Gary Stute took some solace in knowing that two other five-furlong works prior to the renovation break were slower than Papa Clem's. Those works did not appear on the official Pimlico work tab, because, according to track clocker Mark Euga, their trainers did not provide names.

"I was hoping for a faster time, but from the sounds of it the track must have been slow," he said. "Just mainly [wanted] to get a feel of the track. He should be fit coming out of that race. His works before the Derby had all the clockers worried, but this horse has never been a work horse. He's more of an afternoon horse."

Stute did not plan to blow the colt out through the lane before the race.

At Monmouth Park, Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Musket Man worked four furlongs in 46.60 under jockey Daniel Centeno. Musket Man worked in company with Bull Toccet, who went with Musket Man until about the eighth pole, according to trainer Derek Ryan.

"Usually when he works in company, he works like that," Ryan said.

Ryan said there was a loose horse on the outside fence at the time Musket Man was getting ready to breeze.

"He worked good, came out of it good," Ryan said. "He's come out of the Derby great. Usually off a race like that you worry about them backing off their feed. He hasn't missed an oat."

Ryan said Musket Man would van down the morning of the Preakness.

* The weather forecast is mostly favorable for Preakness Day. There is only a 30 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms with a high temperature of 80 degrees, according to weather.com

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh