ELMONT, NY – Mr. Amore Stable’s homebred Firenze Fire scorched “Big Sandy” with a tremendously impressive blazing score in Saturday’s $150,000 Runhappy Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 3 as the close second betting choice under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Firenze Fire initially held the lead along the inside before taking back slightly, allowing Killybegs Captain and the 9/5 favorite Recruiting Ready to lead. Down the backside and into the far turn, Killybegs Captain posted opening fractions of :22.44 and :45.05 while Firenze Fire remained held tight behind them.
Tipped off the rail at the top of the stretch, the Jason Servis trainee found room when Recruiting Ready made his bid and began advancing himself, sweeping to the lead in midstretch before clearing away impressively. Under wraps at the wire, Firenze Fire crossed with a 4 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:08.12 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
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“I broke well,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He always breaks well. I got a good position behind the speed like I wanted. I just waited until Luis (Saez, aboard Recruiting Ready) moved and tipped him out. When I did that, he flew home.”
The tussle for second was close, with Recruiting Ready ultimately beating Bon Raison and Killybegs Captain by a neck and a nose. Much farther back came Skyler’s Scramjet and Ready to Escape to complete the order of finish after neither played a factor in the race.
Firenze Fire’s victory was his first since taking the Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) at Parx last September and improved his record to 16-7-1-2. The 4-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior has now earned $1,216,600 and will aim for the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) – aka the Met Mile – on June 8.
“Obviously, he loves 6 furlongs, but I don’t think a mile would have bothered him today,” said Ron Lombardi of Mr. Amore Stable. “He’s durable. Last year, he did everything we asked him to do to get us to the Kentucky Derby. He delivered. He came through, and that’s why we gave him the four months off, because it was a grueling trip for him. But he’s a durable horse and rebounds well, and here we are.”
Firenze Fire returned $5.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Recruiting Ready brought back $3 to place and $2.40 to show, while Bon Raison paid $3.40 to show.