“It’s been a long time coming.”
So said trainer John Kimmel of Friend Or Foe’s return to the races on Sunday at Aqueduct for the
first time since August 6, 2011. The 5-year-old will face five other New
York-breds in the $80,000 Fourstars Allstar at a mile, his first appearance
since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga.
“I think I saw 460 days,” said Kimmel of the layoff. “He’s
doing really well and he’s ready for a race. We’ll see what he’s got. He’s very
sound, very happy and his fitness is good. We’ll kind of get the rust off and
see what we have.”
Winner of his first three starts in 2010, including the Mike
Lee for New York-breds, Friend Or Foe next finished fourth in the Grade 2 Jim
Dandy and sixth in the Grade 1 Travers. He returned to restricted company and
set a stakes record of 1:46.94 in winning the Empire Classic before closing out
his 3-year-old campaign with a fifth behind Jersey Town
in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap.
In 2011, he made only one other
start besides the Whitney, defeating Rail Trip in a swiftly run overnight
stakes in June at Belmont.
“We had him about halfway back last spring,” said Kimmel of
Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred son of Friends Lake.
“I had him up to about a half a mile fit, and the area which has been a
problem, which is the medial branch of the inside suspensory branch, just
started to get a little warm. So we tried to be as conservative as possible. We
gave him a little extra time. He ended getting a foot problem at the farm and
what I thought would be one or two months turned into three months. But since
he’s been here he’s been pretty much consistent. He showed up late at the Saratoga meet and he was
mad because he didn’t get to go into his big corner stall.”
Since his return from Ocala,
Friend Or Foe has worked 10 times, most recently a three-furlong blowout on
Wednesday in 37.66 over the training track.
“At the farm he was in the [aqua-therapy machine] daily, and
when he came back he had a pretty good foundation in him,” said Kimmel. “It was
a matter of getting an extra level of conditioning through his breezes. He’s
had four or five five-eighths breezes coming into this thing.
“Hopefully he can rebound and have a pretty good campaign,”
he added. “The handicap division has never been very deep. If we can get him
back, we’ll take him down to Florida
and hopefully have a good campaign. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason
he can’t compete at the top tier in the handicap division.”