Firenze Fire wins Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack

Firenze Fire wins Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack

Coglianese Photos/Robert Mauhar

Firenze Fire Tunes Up for Gotham with :50.69 Half-Mile

Champagne Stakes (G1) winner on track for March 10 Gotham Stakes (G3).

Mr. Amore Stable's homebred grade 1 winner Firenze Fire turned in his final work on a windy morning March 4 at Belmont Park ahead of the Gotham Stakes (G3) at a mile March 10 at Aqueduct.

The Poseidon's Warrior  colt, trained by Jason Servis, took to the training track in company shortly after 9:30 a.m. with jockey Manny Franco aboard. Firenze Fire broke off at the five-eighths pole a few lengths behind his stablemate, 5-year-old allowance winner Whatstotalkabout.

The pair covered the opening furlong in a leisurely :14 1/5 and picked up the pace as they rounded the turn. Firenze Fire rated comfortably behind his workmate and, when tipped to the outside, responded with a strong kick inside the eighth pole to finish about 1 1/2 lengths ahead at the wire. He galloped out a solid quarter-mile.

Firenze Fire ran a half-mile in :50.69.

"It's the same as he always works. He's kind of a plugging-along horse," said Servis by phone. "He's taken dirt in his races and I know he's pretty fit at this point, but I still want him to stay behind horses and gallop out a little bit."

The Gotham will be the third local Derby prep for Firenze Fire, who recorded a half-length victory Jan. 13 in the one-mile Jerome Stakes. Last time out he finished a hard-fought second in the nine-furlong Withers Stakes (G3) Feb. 3.

At 2, Firenze Fire won the Sanford Stakes (G3) and finished fourth in Saratoga Race Course's Hopeful Stakes (G1) before posting a half-length win over eventual 2-year-old champion Good Magic Oct. 7 in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont.

In his two-turn debut, Firenze Fire finished a distant seventh in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.

The Gotham awards 85 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on a 50-20-10-5 scale.

Firenze Fire is fourth in the standings with 24 points.

"He doesn't get much respect sometimes," said Servis. "He's kind of a Rodney Dangerfield. I don't get it. He ran a mile and an eighth (in the Withers) and it didn't look like he had trouble with it. He kind of made a middle move and just couldn't get to that horse, but it wasn't like he stopped or anything. I think if he's ridden right, he'll get a mile and a quarter. But he's got to get the points first."

Franco will ride Firenze Fire in the Gotham, while Trevor McCarthy, who was aboard for Firenze Fire's runner-up finish in the Withers, breezed Servis' other Gotham probable, undefeated New Jersey-bred Dial Operator.

A lightly raced chestnut colt by Dialed In , New Farm homebred Dial Operator got loose briefly near the gap of the training track but was apprehended without incident and went on to work a half-mile in :50.20.

Dial Operator broke his maiden by 1 1/4 lengths at first asking against state-breds last July at Monmouth Park and returned from an eight-month layoff to register a 4 1/2-length score in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming race Feb. 4 at Laurel Park.