Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Long Road Back

We all know that the Kentucky Derby was a mixture of highs and lows for yours truly, don't we? I certainly remember cashing the biggest ticket of my horse-racing life with the $2 Exacta of 8-16 on Mine That Bird and Pioneerof The Nile, neither of whom I particularly fancied, but since I was born on August 16 (hence, 8-16), I was lucky enough to walk out with a $2,075 winning ticket. No skill, just pure dumb luck.

The lows, however, revolve around my actual handicapping of the race. It was on this blog that I sided with Friesan Fire, winner of the Louisiana Derby, as my choice for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. We all know how that turned out. Friesan Fire ran 18th on the first Saturday in May, next-to-last, after a brutal trip from which the horse exited with cuts and scrapes from being stepped on in the crush of traffic. Friesan Fire then ran 10th in the Preakness two weeks later and was removed from training with two serious injuries, fractures in both forelegs.

Well, Friesan Fire will return to the races at the site of his greatest triumph, Fair Grounds in New Orleans, the home of the Louisiana Derby. He is entered in a six-horse field on Thursday as the 7-5 morning-line favorite. Since the Triple Crown debacles, Friesan Fire has a new handler in Steve Asmussen, who certainly knows a thing or two around horses, and a new goal. Friesan Fire is being readied for a return to the big stage in the 2010 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

So, in fond remembrance of passions past, They Are Off wishes Friesan Fire all the best in his return to the races on Thursday. Here's hoping you find your comfort spot in that Fair Grounds Winner's Circle.

Tune in on Thursday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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