Sunday, October 8, 2017
After winning the Gr. III Sanford at Saratoga, when Firenze Fire didn't fire in the Gr. I Hopeful, trainer Jason Servis took it in stride. He said the colt by Poseidon's Warrior wasn't 100 percent at the time, and Firenze Fire proved him right yesterday by winning the Gr. I Champagne at Belmont Park.
With Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons, the colt left the gate with the pack but soon dropped back and was a good 10 lengths behind going down the backstretch in the one-mile race worth $500,000. But when the real running started, Firenze Fire blew by the pack and was up at the wire to score by half a length and earn the $300,000 that goes with it. The race had many ramifications, not the least of which is that it's a Breeders' Cup Challenge race - meaning 'Win and You're In' - so Firenze Fire is automatically eligible for the Sentient BC Juvenile if the owners of Mr. Amore Stables accept the invitation.
Firenze Fire is now the leading 2-year-old in the country with earnings of $429,100 and his sire is one of just four freshmen stallions with a graded stakes-winner. Poseidon's Warrior (Pleasant Acres Stallions) also jumped up into fifth place on the national freshman sire list with progeny earnings of $498,333, and he's first in Florida.
REALLY STEPPIN' OUT - Two Step Salsa has a potential rising star in Driven by History, who captured the $100,000 Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Stakes at Presque Isle Downs on Thursday. The colt bred by Pedro Maestre prevailed by a head in a driving finish against favored Shekky Shebaz and is now 4-3-0 in seven starts, winning four of his last five. He's earned $126,200 and is one of five winners by Two Step Salsa in the last four days. All of Driven by History's races have come over the synthetic surface at Presque Isle, so it remains to be seen how he'll fare over a dirt strip.
SOLDAT ON TOP - Woodford Thoroughbreds' Soldat has taken over the top spot on the Florida freshman list with nine winners, one better than Pleasant Acres' Treasure Beach. Soul P Say won at Remington Park on Sept. 29 and Champagne Tequila at Delaware Park on Oct. 7. Treasure Beach's eighth winner was Treble in Paradise at Thistledown on Oct. 2.
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