Mr. Amore Stable's homebred Firenze Fire surged to the lead at the top of the lane en route to a convincing score in Saturday's $150,000 Runhappy, a six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up at Belmont Park.
Trained by Jason Servis, the 4-year-old Poseidon's Warrior colt was quickest out of the gate under Irad Ortiz, Jr. but settled into third position as Killybegs Captain marked the opening quarter-mile in 22.44 seconds and the half-mile in 45.05 under pressure from Recruiting Ready.
Firenze Fire angled off the rail late in the turn and easily overtook the pacesetters, scorching Big Sandy with a 4 3/4-length win in 1:08.12 on the main track labeled fast.
Ortiz, Jr. said he was pleased with the trip he engineered for Firenze Fire.
“I broke well. He always breaks well. I got a good position behind the speed like I wanted,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I just waited until Luis [Saez, aboard Recruiting Ready] moved and tipped him out. When I did that he flew home.”
Recruiting Ready stayed on strong down the lane to complete the exacta by a neck over Bon Raison. Killybegs Captain, Skyler's Scramjet and Ready to Escape completed the order of finish.
Firenze Fire arrived at the Runhappy from a flat third in his seasonal debut on March 31 as the mutuel favorite in the Zaxby's Sprint at Gulfstream Park.
Ron Lombardi [Mr. Amore Stable] said they will now point Firenze Fire to the Grade 1, $1.2 million Runhappy Metropolitan on Belmont Stakes Day June 8.
“The plan is the Met Mile. Obviously, he loves six furlongs, but I don't think a mile would have bothered him today,” said Lombardi.
Firenze Fire captured the 2017 Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga in just his second career start and was on the Kentucky Derby trail as a 3-year-old after winning the Jerome and finishing second in the Grade 3 Withers at the Big A.
The talented colt finished 11th in the Derby and returned as a one-turn horse, winning the one-mile Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont and the six-furlong Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx, before completing his sophomore season in November with a fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
“He's durable. Last year, he did everything we asked him to do to get us to the Kentucky Derby. He delivered,” said Lombardi. “He came through, and that's why we gave him the four months off, because it was a grueling trip for him. But he's a durable horse and rebounds well, and here we are.”
The Florida-bred Firenze Fire, out of the Langfuhr dam My Every Wish, banked $82,500 in victory while improving his record to 7-1-2 from 16 starts. He returned $5.80 for a $2 win ticket.
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