Firenze Fire back to winning form in True North (G2)
by Ryan Martin
Mr. Amore Stables' Firenze Fire backed up his favoritism with a three-wide move at the top of the stretch to secure a fourth triumph over the Belmont Park main track in Saturday's 42nd running of the Grade 2, $150,000 True North.
The 5-year-old Florida-bred son of Poseidon's Warrior made his second start for trainer Kelly Breen in the 6 ½-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward, following a distant fourth to Vekoma in the Grade 1 Runhappy Carter held June 6 at Belmont on a sloppy main track.
"For sure, he needed that last race," Breen said. "I think the track had something to do with it last time out. He ran fast. He's run fast races before. He's a nice horse. When things click like that, it doesn't get much better than that."
Piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Firenze Fire broke sharply from his outside post and tracked in fourth while Yorkton took charge recording an opening quarter-mile in 22.84 seconds with Stan the Man in second and Diamond King along the rail in third.
Ortiz, Jr. gave Firenze Fire his cue at the top of the stretch with Stan the Man taking command and tipped his charge four wide in pursuit. At the eighth-pole, Firenze Fire found himself in front as he drew off to a 1 ½-length victory in a time of 1:09.39. Stan the Man finished second, 3 ½ lengths ahead of Yorkton.
Rounding out the order of finish were Wicked Trick, Diamond King and Midnightcharly.
In addition to a fourth victory over Big Sandy, the True North was a sixth graded stakes triumph for Firenze Fire, whose victories at such caliber also include the Grade 1 Champagne in 2017 and the Grade 3 Dwyer in 2018, both at Belmont Park.
A winner at seven different tracks, the well-travelled Firenze Fire last found the winner's circle two starts back in the Grade 3 General George on February 15 at Laurel Park.
Everything went according to plan according to Ortiz, Jr.
"He did everything right. We broke and got into a good position and I was just waiting," said Ortiz, Jr., who scored his fourth victory on Saturday's program aboard Firenze Fire. "Turning for home, I asked him and he responded really well. We were close to the pace, but I just held him together. I didn't want to be fighting, so I just tried to let him relax and he really responded when I asked."
Breen said that the long term goal for Firenze Fire is the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course.
"Hopefully, we can move onward to Saratoga and find a nice spot for him there. The goal is to get him to the Breeders' Cup," Breen said.
Returning $4.20 for a $2 win bet, Firenze Fire inched his way closer to the $2 million-earning mark banking $82,500 in victory while pushing his lifetime earnings to $1,939,250. His record now stands at 26-11-3-2.
Jockey Joel Rosario, aboard runner-up Stan the Man, offered no excuses.
"The winner ran big. I can't complain with the result," Rosario said. "We had a good trip. We were in good position and he was carrying me nicely. Turning for home, I thought we were going to win but we were just second-best today."
A homebred, Firenze Fire is out of the Langfuhr broodmare My Every Wish.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a nine-race card headlined by the $100,000 Bouwerie, a seven-furlong sprint for New York-bred sophomore fillies in Race 8 at 5:04 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:15 p.m.