Firenze Fire displayed enormous heart gutting out narrow wins in the Champagne (G1) and Sanford (G3) last season and the fire continued to burn bright in the January 13 Jerome at Aqueduct as he gamely wore down pacesetter Seven Trumpets to prevail in the final strides of his 3-year-old debut.
The half-length decision was good for only a 94 BRIS Speed rating but the Jerome was held over an incredibly slow track drying out from frozen conditions.
I’ve been highly-impressed by the talents and gameness displayed by Firenze Fire in one-turn races like the Jerome, including his victory over subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Good Magic in the aforementioned Champagne. But the vibe is much different at longer distances.
Firenze Fire wound up 20 lengths up the track in seventh when trying a route in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. And he may not have to stretch back out to two turns until April, with the one-turn Gotham (G3) on March 10 as an option for his next start.
Trained by John Servis and ridden by Manny Franco, Firenze Fire was favored at 2-5 in the six-horse Jerome, which was cut back to a one-turn mile distance due to the elimination of the inner track (previously held at a mile and 70 yards). And the new winter configuration means the Gotham, which awards 50 points to the winner, has been reduced in distance from 1 1/16 miles to eight furlongs.
Firenze Fire is well-positioned presently, earning 20 points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby, but there’s a chance he’ll wind up being a one-turn specialist.
From the first crop of Grade 1-winning sprinter Poseidon’s Warrior, the Florida-bred rings back memories of Practical Joke, who won his first five starts at one-turn, including a trio of Grade 1s, but went winless from six attempts at two turns. However, Practical Joke did manage to perform respectably in two-turn races, recording a trio of graded placings before finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby.
Firenze Fire still has much to prove in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series to be considered a legitimate prospect.
Seven Trumpets performed admirably in his stakes debut following a pair of back-to-back sprint wins at Churchill Downs. He may get the opportunity to stretch out next time, but the Dale Romans-trained son of Morning Line looks more like a player for one-turn events like the Pat Day Mile (G3) or William Walker on Kentucky Derby week.