Mr. Amore Stables’ Grade 1-winning homebred Firenze Fire returned to his winning ways on Saturday with a half-length victory in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. Under jockey Manny Franco, the Jason Servis-trained son of Poseidon’s Warrior closed down the lane from his position near the back of the pack early to just get up for the win, stopping the clock on the muddy, sealed track in 1:42.88 for the one-mile distance.
Seven Trumpets, who set all the pace on the heavy track in pedestrian splits of :25.01, :50.81 and 1:16.72, held on to second-place honors and was 5 ¼ lengths in front of Coltandmississipi at the wire. Regalian, Factor This and Glennwood rounded out the order of finish after Old Time Revival and Smooth B were withdrawn.
“I was on the best horse today,” Franco said. “The instructions were to try to break good and not give him too much to do. That’s what I tried to do, but the race was a little tougher than we expected, but we got it done. The track is not good for the way my horse runs. It’s a little bit deeper, which is why I almost didn’t make it in time.”
As the 2-5 favorite, Firenze Fire paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Seven Trumpets was worth $2.80 and $2.20 at 3-1. Coltandmississippi paid $2.70 at 5-1. The $1 exacta was good for $2.90 and the 50-cent trifecta returned $3.30.
Florida-bred Firenze Fire earned his fourth win from six career starts and picked up $90,000 for his latest stakes victory to bring his bankroll to $539,100. He was considered one of the best of his crop after winning last year’s Champagne Stakes, as well as the Sanford Stakes (GIII) at Saratoga.
“Heading into the race, I thought he might be up against it,” Servis said. “It looked like there was a speed bias for most of the day on the track. He didn’t have the easiest of trips. He didn’t break on top and had to deal with some traffic, but I’m not going to knock the ride. Manny got the job done. It’s nice when things work it. They don’t usually, but when they do it’s nice.”
Firenze Fire now owns 20 points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate thanks to the 10 he earned with his latest win and sits second behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) winner Good Magic’s 24, tied with Sham Stakes (GIII) winner McKinzie.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law in Kentucky known as the “Borell Law.”Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time.She lives in Robinson, Texas, with her longtime beau, Tony. She is the executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, The Bridge Sanctuary.