11/02/2008 12:00AM

Friesan Fire tougher now, Jones says


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - If Friesan Fire has matured as much as trainer Larry Jones believes, then he'll be very tough to beat in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings at Aqueduct.

Coming off a sharp debut win at Delaware, Friesan Fire looked like a live longshot in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 13. He was sitting right behind the speed early under jockey Terry Thompson, but then appeared to lose a position entering the far turn and was last, though still only three lengths off the pace. Friesan Fire seemed to race just evenly after that, finishing third behind Charitable Man, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

"Terry said he fell out of the bit, backed up, and was very content to follow horses instead of trying to race with them," said Jones, who trains Friesan Fire for Vinery Stables. "Once he got outside horses, he started running again. It's just immaturity more than anything else, somewhat lack of aggressiveness if not lack of a will to win. It seems that he's come a long way since then. He came out of the race a lot more aggressive than he went into it."

John Velazquez rides Friesan Fire from post 5.

Royal Vindication, trained by Stanley Hough, enters the one-mile Nashua off two straight wins, including a half-length score in the Trapp Mountain, an overnight stakes at six furlongs on Oct. 13. Jockey Javier Castellano, who has ridden Royal Vindication in all four of his starts, believes the horse has improved with each race.

"The last time, I rode him with a lot of confidence because I think he's a nice horse and he did it the right way, he finished strong," Castellano said. "I don't think a mile will be a problem; he's not rank, he's easy to take back."

Prince Charming and Forty Thieves are the main speed horses in the field. Prince Charming breaks from the rail under Jose Lezcano, while Forty Thieves breaks from post 7 under Cornelio Velasquez.

Hello Broadway and Break Water Edison are candidates to bounce back from disappointing efforts in the Champagne. Trainer Barclay Tagg said Hello Broadway was dull the day before running fifth in the Champagne, but has been training like a bear since. Break Water Edison may have been compromised by drawing the rail in each of his last two races. Now, he's drawn in post 6.

Tire Kicker, a maiden winner on turf, completes the field.