Firenze Fire hits on all cylinders in nine-length G3 Dwyer win
by Brian Bohl
Mr. Amore Stable's Firenze Fire patiently stalked the pacesetters before overtaking 3-2 favorite Mendelssohn out of the turn and cruising to an impressive nine-length win in the 101st running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The first of five graded stakes on a packed Stars & Stripes Day card saw Noble Indy outduel Mendelssohn in the early going, setting fractions of 23.53 seconds for a quarter-mile with the half in 45.98 on the fast main track.
Under meet-leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., Firenze Fire gained ground and closed fast heading into the upper stretch. After passing Mendelssohn, Firenze Fire surged in the stretch completing the one-mile course on Big Sandy in 1:33.74, more than doubling his previous best for margin of victory, which was 3 ½ lengths in his debut win on June 18, 2017.
"That was great. I've been dying to cut him back, just dying. We thought he'd run good," trainer Jason Servis said.
"Now we're getting him where he needs to be, a mile, seven eighths, where he might even be a tad sharper," he added. "I mean, it all worked out. We're all real happy."
Making his first start since running 11th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs, Firenze Fire registered his first win since the Jerome on January 13 at Aqueduct Racetrack and the first time he finished on the board since running second in the Grade 3 Withers on February 3 at the Big A.
"The time was more than expected. Irad and Jason said, 'He's ready,'" said Firenze Fire owner Ron Lombardi. "Irad's been breezing him all week and I asked him if he was worried about anybody. He said, 'I'm not worried about anybody.' He showed it; it was unbelievable. When he was sitting right off the pace there, and he made a move at the top of the turn, it was so easy. It's just amazing.
"There's a lot of thinking to do now," he continued. "I haven't been thinking about the Haskell. I think the horse needs a little more time than three weeks, but I'm not taking anything off the table right now."
Off at 5-2, Firenze Fire paid $7.50 on a $2 win wager. The Poseidon's Warrior colt won for the fifth time in 11 career starts, increasing his career bankroll to $834,100.
"I got a perfect trip," Ortiz said. "We got a good post and he broke sharp. He was ready today, it was a big performance. Coming in I just wanted to ride my race. Let him settle at first and then let him finish. In preparation for the race, we worked with him to gallop out and finish strong. [The plan was] to relax early and finish strong and it worked out good.
"I expected him to run a big race but I didn't think he would gallop out like that," he added. "I'm so happy to see the way he did it."
West Point Thoroughbreds' Seven Trumpets, off at 10-1, rallied for runner-up status. The Dale Romans trainee was returning to stakes competition after winning an allowance at Churchill on May 3, finishing a half-length in front of Mendelssohn.
Mendelssohn was also making his first appearance since finishing last in the Kentucky Derby, finishing a half-length behind Seven Trumpets for third. The Scat Daddy colt, who won the Group 2 UAE Derby on March 31 by 18 ½ lengths, had made his mark in North America when he won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3 at Del Mar before trainer Aidan O'Brien switched him to dirt.
"He ran a nice race for his first run in two months," said Mendelssohn jockey Ryan Moore, a nine-time Breeders' Cup winner who traveled from Europe for the mount. "I expect him to come forward from this today. He was comfortable, he jumped well [from the gate] and he just felt like he'd improve off how he ran today."
Rounding out the field was Rugbyman, Fixedincome Larry and Noble Indy.