September 28, 2022

Firenze Fire springs Sanford upset

Firenze Fire and Irad Ortiz Jr. win the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga July 22, 2017 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

A convincing debut winner at Monmouth Park, Firenze Fire carried his form forward to Saturday’s $150,000 Sanford (G3) at Saratoga. The 2-year-old colt launched his move leaving the far turn, accelerating to a clear lead by midstretch, and withstood the late bid of 3-1 favorite Free Drop Billy to prevail by a length in the 6-furlong test.

Bettors overlooked the Florida-bred son of freshman sire Poseidon’s Warrior, with Firenze Fire leaving the starting gate as the 12-1 seventh choice among eight runners. Irad Ortiz Jr. had the call for trainer Jason Servis on the Mr. Amore Stable homebred, who stopped the teletimer in 1:11.50.

“It’s his second time out. He did everything right,” Ortiz said. “I threw the reins at him and he really liked it. He was working really good in the mornings, so he’s in good condition. He really was there for me. He looked like a really nice horse. Hopefully he stays sound and healthy.”

“I think he’ll run long,” Servis added. “I asked Irad and he thinks he’ll run long. He’s kind of laid back. I think he’ll get seven-eighths (for the $350,000 Hopeful [G1] on September 4). I think he’ll get a mile, mile and quarter, really. He’s that kind of horse.”

Baffin sped forward to a clear lead after the break, establishing an opening quarter-mile mile in :22.27 as stablemate Direct Dial chased in second. Psychoanalyze raced in third down the backstretch, with Firenze Fire stalking the action in fourth.

Firenze Fire moved closer while under a snug hold on the far turn. Baffin was still clinging to a head advantage after a half-mile in :46.06, but Firenze Fire was full of run to his outside and blew past the pacesetter shortly after straightening for home. It was an adventurous trip for Free Drop Billy, who didn’t have a clean start and was forced to alter course before launching a nice rally.

The top two separated themselves from the rest in the stretch drive, with Psychoanalyze winding up another 5 ¼ lengths back in third. Baffin managed to save fourth, with the Todd Pletcher duo of Bal Harbour and Admiral Jimmy coming next under the wire, and Direct Dial and Nauti Boy completed the order of finish.

Firenze Fire was exiting a 3 ½-length maiden tally on June 18.

“The horse has always been very classy, but when he won the first time, I was a little surprised, I really was,” Servis said. “He won going away and there really wasn’t much around. We thought this is where we’ve got to take a shot and it all worked out, which is very exciting.”

Out of the Langfuhr mare My Every Wish, Firenze Fire counts as his second maternal dam the Unbridled mare Mille Lacs, a full sister to Broodmare of the Year Oatsee, who produced five stakes winners, including Grade 1 scorers Shackleford and Lady Joanne.