June 8, 2023

Engage, Firenze Fire among six in Vosburgh, a BC Sprint WAYI

Engage wins 2019 Phoenix S. at Keeneland
Engage wins 2019 Phoenix S. at Keeneland (Coady Photo/Keeneland)

The untimely retirement earlier this week of sprint star Volatile has arguably made Saturday’s $150,000 Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park a more competitive affair. A field of six will now dash 6 furlongs in the “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland.

Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Volatile, might have adequate backup in Engage, but the son of Into Mischief has a difficult task ahead of him having not raced since a fourth-place effort to stablemate Mitole in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Engage preceded that run with back-to-back stakes wins, including the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland.

After a disappointing summer at Saratoga, Firenze Fire should be happy to be back at Belmont. Fourth by two lengths to Volatile in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) and last of 11 in an edition of the Forego (G1) contested in a downpour, Firenze Fire has always fared better at Big Sandy. He captured the True North (G2) in late June before heading upstate, and looks to improve on his nose loss to Imperial Hint in the 2019 Vosburgh.

The conditions in which the Forego was run didn’t help Funny Guy either, though the Big Brown colt finished a more-respectable fourth as the favorite.

“The conditions that day were just horrendous in that rainstorm,” trainer John Terranova said of the Forego. “There was so much water it was like a river down on the inside. He tried to make a couple of moves and didn’t get beat far, but it just didn’t work out.”

Funny Guy has yet to win against open company, but impressively captured a pair of one-turn stakes for New York-breds earlier in the season. Terranova also saddles Stan the Man, runner-up to Firenze Fire in the True North and winner last out in the restricted Tale of the Cat S. at Saratoga.

“He’s a good horse also. He’s been a bit of an off-the-pace sprinter and he’s able to do a few different things as well,” Terranova said. “The good thing is that both horses are doing really well at the moment.”

True Timber is shortening up a furlong off a third-place effort in the Forego, but trainer Jack Sisterson’s fall goal for the 6-year-old is the Cigar Mile (G1) rather than the Breeders’ Cup.

“We had the Kelso ([G2] Oct. 3) in mind, but the Vosburgh ended up becoming more of a wide open race so we figured we would give it a shot. I think he’s the type of horse that can run over just about anything,” Sisterson said.

The field is rounded out by Share the Ride, gate-to-wire winner of the Mr. Prospector S. at Monmouth Park last out.

The supporting feature is the $100,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (G3), a one-mile grass test for fillies and mares. The Chad Brown-trained trio of Blowout, Viadera, and Noor Sahara appear solid, as does the multiple stakes-winning Feel Glorious from the Christophe Clement stable.