Firenze Fire Takes G3 Gallant Bob

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Keith Jones

A brilliant stretch duel and a bite from a rival before the wire couldn't deny Mr. Amore Stable's multiple graded stakes winner Firenze Fire who rallied between foes under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to win the Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes for 3-year-olds by a neck in 1:11.27 for the six furlongs over the fast main track.

The son of Poseidon's Warrior added his third Grade 3 victory and fourth graded stakes win for trainer Jason Servis while cutting back to six furlongs for the first time since winning the Grade 3 Sanford as a 2-year-old at Saratoga in just his second start.

"The horse ran super. He just ran smooth," Servis said. "Irad saved all the ground all the way around. We may go to the Breeders' Cup Sprint now, what can I say. I mean he's been great. Ron [owner/breeder Ron Lombardi] had the mare sitting, and didn't want to breed her, then he ended up breeding her. He's a special horse."

The race began with quick fractions set by Forced who was taken directly to the lead under Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado, who sent the field of eight through an opening quarter in 21.91. Approaching the half-mile Firenze Fire was quickly in striking range, and put his head in front with 45.82 being timed at the half. Whereshetoldmetogo wrestled the lead away from his outside as Seven Trumpets closed and battled gamely to their inside in third.

The trio made their way to the wire, and with 58.44 for five furlongs, Firenze Fire regained his advantage, but not before Whereshetoldmetogo tried to get his lead back. Just strides before the wire Whereshetoldmetogo reached in before defeat, and bit his rival nearly missing Irad Ortiz Jr.'s hand who got the advantage aboard his determined winner. Seven Trumpets would hold third 1 1/2 lengths behind besting fourth place finisher Engage by four lenghts.

"He tried to bite me," Ortiz Jr. said. "Jeremy [Jockey Jeremy Rose] told me he tried to bite me but nothing happened. My horse broke so good oout of the gate and he just pulled me. I wanted to stay close and when I asked him he just went."

Firenze Fire won began the year with a victory in the Jerome Stakes on January 13 at Aqueduct, then ran second in the Withers on February 2. Two fourth place finishes in the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 2 Wood Memorial led to the Florida-bred's 11th place finish in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Firenze Fire returned to begin his summer campaign at Belmont Park where he won the Grade 3 Dwyer by nine lengths over Seven Trumpets. The colt was then sent north to Saratoga where he finished third in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 25 at Saratoga. The versatility that Firenze Fire offers gives Servis plenty to talk about with Mr. Amore Stables owner Ron Lombardi regarding where to run in the Breeders' Cup.

"We have the option to do the Mile or the Sprint, but I'll talk to Ron. We'll see." he said. Rounding out the finish in the Gallant Bob was Smooth B., Earned Success, Forced and War Giant.

Firenze Fire returned $4.80 to win on a $2 wager.