Firenze Fire and jockey Jose Ortiz win the Grade 2 True North at Belmont Park.
To say that the stretch run of the Grade 1 Forego was an anxious one for owner Ron Lombardi would be an understatement, but he was still proud of a valiant effort from multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Firenze Fire, who finished second after savaging subsequent winner Yaupon in the final sixteenth of the seven-furlong event at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Trained by Kelly Breen, Firenze Fire, who finished a respective second and 11th in the last two editions of the Forego, raced in second position throughout just off the flank of Yaupon and edged his way to even terms around the turn. The pair raced nip-and-tuck in upper stretch before Firenze Fire, with Jose Ortiz up, savaged Yaupon inside the eighth pole, biting at his rival’s bridle.
“He ran great. He’s a warrior,” Lombardi said. “Unfortunately, that mishap cost him the race. If he stays focused, I think he wins the race. It was unfortunate but it was a race that people will be talking about for a while. Jose did a tremendous job keeping Firenze Fire in there.”
Firenze Fire was on the receiving end of a similar situation when capturing the Grade 3 Gallant Bob in September 2018 at Parx, where he fended off Whereshetoldmetogo, who tried to bite Firenze Fire in the final furlong.
“It happens so rarely and to have one horse involved in it twice – both the giving and receiving end – is really amazing,” Lombardi said with a laugh.
Lombardi, who races under the Mr. Amore Stable moniker, said Firenze Fire will target a repeat victory in the $250,000 Grade 2 Vosburgh on October 9 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
“That was always the plan. In fact, I was thinking about skipping the Forego,” Lombardi said. “But he was doing great and it’s six weeks for that. I talked to Kelly this morning; he came out of the race great like he always does. Our goal will be the Vosburgh if things fall in line.”
Not all was lost for Lombardi this weekend as New York homebred juvenile filly November Rein won her stakes debut in Friday’s $200,000 Seeking the Ante on New York Showcase Day.
Lombardi said the daughter of Street Boss could target either the $250,000 Maid of the Mist on October 30 at Belmont Park, or face open company in the $400,000 Grade 1 Frizette on October 3 – a “Win And You’re In” event for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
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