Country Life Farm Looking to Catch ‘Fire’ In Maryland Million
LAUREL, MD - The stallion business is tough. In order for freshman sires to gain momentum, it is imperative their first crop of 2-year-olds comes out running.
In Maryland, Country Life Farm has captured that kind of success in the past and this Saturday at Laurel Park, it will try to do it again with its new first-crop stallion, Friesan Fire, in the 30th Running of The Jim McKay Maryland Million.
Having recorded tremendous early success with stallions Allen’s Prospect and Malibu Moon in the past, Country Life Farm is counting on Friesan Fire to carry on its tradition of first-crop excellence.
Sent off as the post time favorite in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, Friesan Fire finished 18th after getting bumped and squeezed at the start. After he won the Louisiana Handicap in January of his 4-year-old year, the son of champion A.P. Indy retired from racing with five wins overall, three of them in graded stakes, for a total of $679,356 in career earnings.
In 2012, he began his stud career at Country Life Farm located in Bel Air, MD. His first crop produced 61 2-year-olds and he currently ranks first in the Mid-Atlantic region in both earnings and number of winners for freshman sires. He also ranks 17th in the country for freshman sires in earnings, and he is tied for 7th in the country for winners by a freshman sire.
For Maryland’s Day at the Races this Saturday, Friesan Fire will be well represented in both Maryland Million races for juveniles, the Lassie for fillies and the Nursery for colts and geldings. For brothers Mike and Josh Pons, who now run the farm that was started by their family in 1933, it could be another big day.
“I don’t know if [Friesan Fire] can duplicate Allen’s Prospect’s start when he swept the Juvenile races in 1990, but it sure would be nice to get a win this Saturday,” Mike Pons said.
Allen’s Prospect was one of the farm’s all-time leading stallions and is the second leading stallion in Maryland Million wins with 22. Only Not For Love sired more Maryland Million winners, currently on top with 32.
In 1990, two of Allen’s Prospect’s first-crop 2-year-olds won on Maryland Million Day. Ameri Allen won the Lassie and Xray took the Nursery. This year, Friesan Fire will be represented by Flash McCaul and Howyaformoney in the Nursery and She Rolls in the Maryland Million Lassie.
Listed at 7-2 in the morning line for the Nursery, Flash McCaul is the freshman sire's best chance this Saturday. The gelding, who is also owned by Country Life Farm, overcame a sluggish start in his debut and rallied for an impressive come-from-behind victory for trainer Mike Trombetta and jockey Julian Pimentel.
"He didn't break too well, which is one of those things that can happen, but what he did from there on in was very good,” Trombetta said.
Trombetta has six overall Maryland Million victories and last year he won the Lassie with My Magician, by Street Magician, who at the time was a freshman sire. Trombetta knows the importance of what these kinds of wins for freshman sires can do and is hoping he can do it again this year.
"That would be really cool, it really would. I know it goes a long way with the people that are trying to get these stallions started," Trombetta said.
Friesan Fire's 2-year-old starter in the Lassie will be She Rolls. The Kieron Magee-trained filly won first time out on September 25th at Laurel and is 15-1 in the morning line with Sheldon Russell aboard.
The Pons Family and their team at the farm also know the importance of winning on big days such as Jim McKay Maryland Million.
“It’s a bell ringing day when that happens, and the earlier in your career it happens the more it can be a harbinger of things to come. It’s a litmus test that you have to answer early if you’re going to make it around here,” Mike Pons said.
So far, the results of the Friesan Fire 2-year-olds have been encouraging. “He’s got seven winners, two stakes placed horses, and he could have another winner shortly. He’s off to a great start,” Mike Pons said. “I think now that the 2-year-old races are now stretching out, it’s starting to hit a bunch of these guys right between the eyes.”
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