Firenze Fire Likely for Florida Cup Zaxby's Sprint
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
    OLDSMAR - Four-year-old colt Firenze Fire, a Gr. I winner who competed in last year’s Kentucky Derby  and finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, is expected to compete in the $115,000 Florida Cup Zaxby’s Sprint on Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs. The 17th annual Florida Cup Day features six $115,000 stakes races, three on dirt and three on turf, for registered Florida-breds. The Florida Cup is presented by Jim Browne Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and iHeartRadio. Official entries will be taken Thursday.

    Firenze Fire, who has been working out at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach for his first start of 2019, is owned by his breeder Ron Lombardi’s Mr. Amore Stable and trained by Jason Servis. A son of Poseidon’s Warrior, out of My Every Wish by Langfuhr, he won the Gr. III Sanford Stakes at Saratoga and the Gr. I Champagne at Belmont in 2017 as a 2-year-old, stamping himself as a Triple Crown candidate.

    After a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar, Firenze Fire won his 3-year-old debut, the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. He went on to finish 11th in the Kentucky Derby, returning in the summer to win the Gr. III Dwyer Stakes at Belmont and adding the Gr. III Gallant Bob at Parx Racing in September. He has career earnings in excess of $1.1-million.

    The Florida Cup Zaxby’s Sprint will be contested at a distance of 6 furlongs.

    Two main-track Florida Cup races are scheduled for 3-year-olds, both at a distance of 7 furlongs: the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore and the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies.

    Florida Cup turf offerings include the DRF Bets Sophomore Turf, for 3-year-olds going a mile-and-a-sixteenth; the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth; and the Touch Vodka Turf Classic, for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going a mile-and-an-eighth.

    Back to the Zaxby’s Sprint, where expected challengers to Firenze Fire include 6-year-old gelding Extravagant Kid, a multiple stakes-winner who finished third in the 2016 Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore, and 5-year-old horse Sweetontheladies, a multiple graded stakes-placed runner who finished second here in the Pelican Stakes on Feb. 16.

    The Touch Vodka Turf Classic is expected to draw trainer Brad Cox’s 7-year-old gelding Big Changes, who had a streak of eight consecutive first or second-place finishes stopped in last month’s Gr, III Fair Grounds Handicap. Big Changes has won stakes at four racetracks.

    Another probable Touch Vodka Turf Classic participant is 5-year-old gelding Muggsamatic, a Kathleen O’Connell-trainee who won the 2017 DRF Bets Sophomore Turf. Stakes-winner Curlin’s Honor, a 4-year-old colt from the barn of Mark Casse, and Our Way, trainer H. James Bond’s multiple stakes-winning 6-year-old gelding who finished second in the 2016 Florida Cup Sophomore Turf, are also likely starters.

    The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore is expected to draw breeder-owner Tracy Pinchin’s talented colt, Jackson. The speedy son of Kantharos won the Juvenile Sprint Stakes in November at Gulfstream Park west and has finished second in three other stakes.

    Owner John C. Oxley’s filly Catherinethegreat is a possibility for the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies. Trained by Mark Casse, she won the Gr. III Schuylerville Stakes last summer at Saratoga.

    A likely Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies starter is recent stakes winner Midtown Rose, from the barn of trainer Saffie A. Joseph, Jr.

    The DRF Bets Sophomore Turf field is likely to include Global Access, the Live Oak Plantation-owned homebred who finished third here in the Columbia Stakes on March 9. Also expected to compete are stakes- winner Mr Wrench It and the multiple stakes-placed Max K. O.

    Midnight Soiree, a 4-year-old filly trained by Lisa Lewis, is expected to return to action after a six-month layoff to contest the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf. She won the Martha Washington Stakes last summer at Gulfstream and finished second there in the Miss Gracie Stakes. Another probable is the Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old Picara, who won the Millions Filly and Mare Turf Preview Stakes last fall at Gulfstream Park West.

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