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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Mr. Amore Stable’s Grade 1 winner Firenze Fire, perfectly piloted by Jose Lezcano for trainer Jason Servis, reeled in stablemate Happy Farm in the shadow of the wire to capture Sunday’s $100,000 Gravesend at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 4-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior, who finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) on November 2, arrived at Sunday’s 6-furlong test for 3-year-olds and upward from a decisive score in the Fabulous Strike Stakes on November 27 at Penn National.
Happy Farm, last-out winner of the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) on December 8 at the Big A, led the six-horse field through splits of :23.16 and :45.86 on the fast main track as Firenze Fire tracked outside in second position.
Reylu Gutierrez maintained a controlled pace aboard Happy Farm through the turn as Firenze Fire was urged into action, with T Loves a Fight sliding into third position for the stretch drive. Happy Farm continued to find more despite shying away briefly late in the lane, but he could not deny the classy Firenze Fire a well-measured head score in 1:09.72. Happy Farm completed the exacta, 1 1/2 lengths the better of T Loves a Fight. Rounding out the order of finish were Wonderful Light, No Distortion, and Seethisquick.
Lezcano said Firenze Fire, winner of the 2017 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, was all class in victory.
“The track is playing for speed and the other horse (Happy Farm) was fast enough to keep going,” said Lezcano. “My horse is very classy. He followed the leader the whole way. When I asked him, he went on and did the job. I didn’t ask him for too much. I just asked him for enough to win the race.”
Gutierrez, who set the tempo aboard the improving Happy Farm, also found praise for the multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Firenze Fire.
“The first 1/4 of a mile we were going slow, but I could feel Jose putting the pressure on me,” said Gutierrez. “I was confident turning for home and my horse did everything I asked him to, but I guess the classier horse won today.
“I believe he saw a shadow (approaching the wire) because he had a hop, but he never hit the rail,” he added. “When Jose creeped up next to him, something spooked him, but when I went to my left hand, he regrouped. I don’t believe that it cost him.”
Firenze Fire, bred in Florida by his owners, banked $57,750 in victory while improving his record to 9-3-2 from 23 starts. He returned $2.70 for a $2 win ticket.
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