(Firenze Fire wins the G2 Vosburgh Stakes / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team / Ryan Martin:
Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fire once again established himself as a horse-for-course, notching a seventh graded stakes victory by capturing Saturday’s 81st running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Vosburgh at Belmont Park.
The 5-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior scored his fifth victory in eight starts over Big Sandy, which also include the Grade 1 Champagne in October 2017, the Grade 3 Dwyer in July 2018, the 2019 Runhappy and the Grade 2 True North on June 27. He arrived at the six-furlong event off an 11th-place finish in the Grade 1 Forego over a sloppy main track at Saratoga Race Course.
Piloted by Jose Lezcano, Firenze Fire broke sharply from post 4 and was forwardly placed as Monmouth Park invader Share the Ride controlled the pace of the tightly packed field with Firenze Fire one path to his outside in second through an opening quarter-mile in 22.33 seconds on the fast track.
Around the far turn, Lezcano asked his charge for more as he inched his way closer to the front. Past the quarter-pole, through a half-mile in 45.53 seconds, Firenze Fire was on even terms with the frontrunner and established command around the three-sixteenths, with multiple New York-bred stakes winner Funny Guy making his bid to the outside. In the final half-furlong, Firenze Fire continued to fine more and powered home to win by 2 ¾ lengths in a final time of 1:09.74.
Funny Guy finished second 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Share the Ride. True Timber and Engage completed the order of finish. Stan the Man was scratched.
The Vosburgh score was redemption for Firenze Fire, who was a narrow runner-up in last year’s edition where he was beaten a nose to back-to-back Vosburgh winner Imperial Hint.
Firenze Fire, who was making his fifth start for conditioner Kelly Breen after assuming training duties earlier this year, earned an automatic entry into the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland in taking the Vosburgh via the Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” Challenge Series.
“He ran a nice race. Jose [Lezcano] took off the speed a little bit but he had plenty of horse,” Breen said. “I can say he doesn’t like the mud. You can put a line through his last race and he really performed today. He loves Belmont. We’ll have to get him as used to Keeneland as he is to Belmont. I’ll bring a couple of buckets from here and put it down the Keeneland stretch and bring our track to Keeneland. He’s doing great. He looked great today and we’re on to the Breeders’ Cup [Sprint].”
Lezcano said a sharp break was crucial in securing the victory.
“Today, it was a small field, so I wanted to break good and he was in the bridle the whole way,” Lezcano said. “When I asked him at the quarter pole, he took off.”
Mr. Amore Stable’s Ron Lombardi said he is relishing the opportunity to return to the Breeders’ Cup with Firenze Fire for a fourth straight year after previous appearances in the 2017 Juvenile [seventh], the 2018 Dirt Mile [fourth] and 2019 Sprint [fifth].
“I think he’s right there [with the best sprinters in the country]. There’s no question about it,” Lombardi said. “Kelly has done a fantastic job with him. It’s our second win after everything [trainer change] and he’s a solid horse. He always delivers and he recovers well. We’ll decide after the Breeders’ Cup what we’re going to do, there’s a lot of options but I love racing. If he does well there, it will be a tough decision [to send him to stud].”
Banking $82,500 in victory, Firenze Fire moved his lifetime earnings past the two-million dollar mark at $2,038,250. The Florida homebred returned $7.20 for a $2 win bet.
Boasting an overall record of 29-12-3-2, Firenze Fire has won three of his six starts this season, all of which took place against graded stakes company. Two starts prior to the True North, Firenze Fire won his 2020 debut in the Grade 3 General George on February 15 at Laurel Park.
Live racing resumes at Belmont on Sunday afternoon with a 10-race program. First post is 1 p.m.