Servis, known for his conservative approach, was leaning toward the Grade 3, six-furlong Futurity Stakes on Oct. 14 at Belmont Park, noting that their colt probably would be among the top contenders in that $150,000 spot and believing the distance was close to ideal. The homebred son of Poseidon’s Warrior had won the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at six furlongs on July 22 at Saratoga Race Course.
Lombardi, whose style is to swing for the fences, wanted to do exactly that by aiming at the Grade 1 Champagne, contested at one mile.
“I always go against the odds. I’m a risk taker and it paid off,” he said after his initial Grade 1 triumph.
Not surprisingly, the owner won the debate. And, in this case at least, the owner knew better.
Firenze Fire made a huge move around the final turn to defeat Good Magic by a half-length to earn an automatic berth and a fees-paid entry in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar on Nov. 4. Enticed ran third.
Firenze Fire paid $24 for a $2 win wager. He covered the mile in 1:35.91.
The youngster rebounded strongly from the Grade 1 Hopeful, where he weakened to be fourth in that seven-furlong contest on Sept. 4 at Saratoga.
“The horse was coughing going into the race,” Servis noted. “He was flat. He never changed leads. I think it was a throw-out race.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is optimistic his mount can handle two turns in the Juvenile.
“The way he did it today, he relaxed pretty good,” he said. “I think he can do it.”
Not surprisingly, Servis is already fretting about the prospect of a large field in the Juvenile and the possibility their horse might struggle to repeat his big effort in the Champagne.
Lombardi, of course, was already California dreamin’.
“It would be hard to get Ron not to go,” Servis said.