ELMONT, NY – Mr. Amore Stables’ homebred Firenze Fire bade his time until the right moment, blazing to the front with a furlong remaining to take Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Champagne is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with winner receiving an automatic berth in the $2 million Sentient Jet Juvenile at Del Mar on Saturday, November 4.
Away well from the outside post in a full field of twelve 2-year-old males, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., let Firenze Fire settle well off the pace while Aveenu Malcainu led through early fractions of :22.90, :45.94, and 1:10.37. Waiting patiently to move until the end of the far turn, Firenze Fire swung to the outside at the top of the stretch and commenced a hard charge to the front. With a furlong to go, the Jason Servis trainee collared new leader Good Magic, then fought his way past and held firm to the wire. Firenze Fire hit the wire first by a 1/2 length over Good Magic in a final time of 1:35.91 for the mile-long main track event.
“He always breaks good, but we’ve been working with him to drop in, take some kickback, get some dirt and finish,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He was working great.”
Enticed dug in to secure third by a neck over Kowboy Karma. Another 5 1/4 lengths back, Hazit took fifth by a neck past Honorable Treasure. Aveenu Malcainu faded to seventh, with Full of Run, Bahamian, Stronger, Master Manipulator, and Blame It On Honey completing the order of finish.
The win was the third in four career starts for the son of Poseidon’s Warrior. After breaking his maiden on debut at Monmouth, he won the Grade 3 Sanford before finishing fourth last out in the Grade 1 Hopeful. The winner’s share of $300,000 gave a considerable boost to his career earnings, which now stand at $429,100.
“I was really surprised on the turn,” Servis said. “Irad was loaded. It looked like he was going to get there, but even Irad said he was loaded. He wasn’t right that day (in the Hopeful). He had a virus or something going on. He changed leads today.”
Firenze Fire returned $24 to win, $9.80 to place, and $5.60 to show. Good Magic brought back $6 to place and $4.30 to show, while Enticed paid $4.70 to show.