- Owner / Mr. Amore Stable
- Breeder / Mr Amore Stables
- Owner / Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable
- Breeder / Hibiscus Stables
- Owner / Silvino Ramirez
- Breeder / Dixiana Farms LLC
- Owner / Calumet Farm
- Breeder / Mr. & Mrs. Marc C. Ferrell
For them, the trick is finding a way to turn the racing surface at Keeneland into a duplicate of “Big Sandy” at Belmont Park, a racetrack the homebred son of Poseidon’s Warrior absolutely relishes.
“I’ll bring a couple of cups, make it a couple of buckets of this track, and we’ll put it down in the stretch [at Keeneland],” Breen said.
“I’ll bring a dumpster,” Lombardi joked.
The connections were surely in a jovial mood Sept. 26 after Firenze Fire seized the moment in a suddenly wide-open sprint division and captured the $145,500, Grade 2 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park by 2 3/4 lengths over favored Funny Guy to secure a guaranteed free spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint through the “Win and You’re In” program.
The victory came a little less than a week after a cannon bone injury ended the career of Volatile, who beat Firenze Fire in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and changed the complexion of both the Vosburgh, a race in which he would have been heavily favored, and the Sprint.
Firenze Fire used a strong stretch kick to capitalize on Volatile’s absence in the Vosburgh, and his connections are hoping it can happen once again Nov. 7 at Keeneland, when he makes his second straight start in the Sprint — where he was fifth in 2019.
“I think he’s right there,” Lombardi said about Firenze Fire’s status in the suddenly wide-open sprint division. “There’s no question about it. This was awesome.”
The victory was the fifth in eight starts at Belmont Park for the 5-year-old son of the Langfuhr mare My Every Wish, including a win in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes in 2017.
“He loves Belmont Park,” Lombardi said. “I wish they could move the Breeders’ Cup here.”
That slate also includes a nose loss in last year’s Vosburgh, adding to Lombardi’s delight over Saturday’s score that lifted Firenze Fire’s earnings past the $2 million mark to $2,038,250.
“After last year’s defeat, this was sweet,” said Lombardi, whose racing and breeding operations are listed under the Mr. Amore Stable banner.
The victory, in Lombardi’s mind, also dispelled any skepticism about Firenze Fire’s first three seasons of racing when Jason Servis was his trainer. Servis was indicted in March on federal race-doping charges and has been barred from the sport.
Since Breen took over the 5-year-old’s training duties, Firenze Fire has two graded stakes wins in five starts. He also won the Grade 2 True North Stakes for Breen, and though he was 11th last time out in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing, Saturday’s effort illustrated the sloppy racetrack was to blame for that blemish on a resume of 12 wins and three seconds from 29 starts.
“Kelly has done a fantastic job, winning two stakes with him, and this horse answered a lot of questions today that were unanswered,” Lombardi said. “This shows he’s the real deal.”
The victory also prompted Lombardi to rethink plans for 2021.
“He’s back and this changes a lot of my thoughts about next year,” Lombardi said. “I’ve been getting some calls about breeding him and I have a bunch of broodmares for him, but we’ll see what happens in the Breeders’ Cup. Maybe we’ll keep racing him.”