Tuesday, January 16, 2018
He's square on the Derby trail . . .
Considering his flop in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, it's hard to get a solid take on Firenze Fire, the Florida-bred colt by Poseidon's Warrior who won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. Was that the real Firenze Fire, or is the real edition the guy who won the Gr. I Champagne and Gr. III Sanford last year and now has three stakes victories and 20 points on the road to Louisville?
The colt's Jerome score wasn't achieved against killers, but it was accomplished with such professionalism he has to be taken seriously, even at this early date. Firenze Fire broke last with Manny Franco and was four or five wide all the way down the backstretch in the one-mile race run in the mud. He remained that wide on the turn and into the stretch, making his powerful late run that resulted in a head victory that much more believable.
Ron Lombardi, who owns and bred the colt, plans to go for the Gr. III Gotham on March 10 and then the Gr. II Wood Memorial on April 7. If Firenze Fire is still standing by then, it will be a big boon for Florida breeding, which has suffered in recent seasons as the big horses who make it to the various rich Derby preps are 99 percent by Kentucky stallions. It would also be a big feather in the cap of Joe and Helen Barbazon's Pleasant Acres stallions, where Poseidon's Warrior stands.
NO SUCCESS: YET - Coming on the heels of the third-place finish a couple of weeks ago of Zenyatta's colt, Ziconic, two more celebrated runners were in action over the holiday weekend. At Santa Anita yesterday, California Chrome's 3-year-old full brother, Faversham, made his career debut in a maiden special at 6 furlongs, and on Saturday, Mandy Pope's Tapability (Tapit-Groupie Doll) made his first start at the same distance at Fair Grounds.
Faversham made by far the best showing of the pair, despite his 8-1 odds. Off last, Stewart Elliott guided him carefully around the turn after fractions of :21.87 and :45.33 and the colt responded with a solid run up to second at the wire, 1 1/4 lengths behind, in 1:11.17. A very promising debut.
It was another story in Louisiana, where Tapability, also 8-1, broke last, and followed the pack more than 10 lengths behind down the backstretch. He made somewhat of a run on the turn but was never a threat thereafter. Pope paid $3.1 million for Groupie Doll at Keeneland November in 2013.
RAINBOW 6 SOARING - Gulfstream's Rainbow Pick 6 is well beyond the serious range and they'll be shooting for $2,292,790-plus when the gates open tomorrow.
ASTOUNDING - How about the 7-year-old Ontario-bred mare Chella? On Saturday, the daughter of Where's the Ring won the first race at Tampa Bay Downs and she's 2-for-2 at the meeting. She's also 25-2-5 in 40 career starts, has earned $298,198, and is 11-0-2 in her last 13. In 2015 she had one eight-race winning streak. Chella was 3/5 Saturday and won by a length.