Firenze Fire captures prestigious, Gr. I Champagne
Firenze Fire broke new ground for Pleasant Acres and the Speightstown stallion Poseidon’s Warrior yesterday, scoring an 11-1 upset in the Gr. I, $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. The prestigious event has been run since 1867 and won by such racing legends as Count Fleet, Never Bend, Buckpasser, Riva Ridge, Seattle Slew, Alydar and Spectacular Bid. Among the winners since it has been contested at one mile in 2005 are First Samurai, Scat Daddy, Uncle Mo and Shanghai Bobby.
Firenze Fire broke sharply with Irad Ortiz Jr., who then took the colt back to race near the rear of the pack. On the turn, Ortiz swung him to the outside and Firenze Fire put it in another gear, cruising past horses with ease and making a run to the wire that wound up in a half-length victory in a clocking of 1:35.91. The $300,000 winner’s check for the Mr. Amore Stables’ homebred raised his earnings to $429,100, most for any 2-year-old in the country.
With the Champagne designated as a ‘Win and You’re In’ race, Firenze Fire is automatically eligible for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile coming up at Del Mar. He also picked up 10 points on the ‘Race for the Kentucky Derby’ list and moved Poseidon’s Warrior into fifth place on the national freshman sire list.