Firenze Fire launched his bid leaving the far turn, blowing past pacesetter Baffin to a clear lead, and held off the late charge of Free Drop Billy to score a one-length victory in the July 22 Sanford (G3) at Saratoga. Trained by Jason Servis and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the son of freshman sire Poseidon’s Warrior was bred in Florida by owner My Amore Stable.
The 6-furlong race is the first of three graded events at Saratoga for 2-year-olds. Triple Crown winner Affirmed was the last Kentucky Derby hero to capture the Sanford in 1977.
"I think he'll run long,” Servis said of Firenze Fire, who improved to 2-for-2 following a debut maiden tally at Monmouth Park June 18. “I asked Irad and he thinks he'll run long. He's kind of laid back. I think he'll get seven-eighths (for the $350,000 Hopeful [G1] on September 4). I think he'll get a mile, mile and quarter, really. He's that kind of horse.”
Firenze Fire is from the female family of 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford.
Overlooked as the 12-1 seventh choice among eight rivals, Firenze Fire finished in 1:11.50.
Ortiz came away impressed with the winner.
"It's his second time out. He did everything right," Ortiz said. "I threw the reins at him and he really liked it. He was working really good in the mornings, so he's in good condition. He really was there for me. He looked like a really nice horse. Hopefully he stays sound and healthy."
It was a rough trip for Free Drop Billy, who left the starting gate as the slight 3-1 favorite following a three-length debut victory at Churchill Downs June 15. The Dale Romans-trained colt did not break cleanly and was forced to alter course before rallying stoutly. He wound up 5 ¼ lengths clear of third-placer Psychoanalyze.