Firenze Fire wins Jerome; he’s on the Derby trail
Firenze Fire re-established his Kentucky Derby credentials yesterday at Aqueduct, posting a thrilling, come-from-behind victory in the muddy, $150,000 Jerome Stakes, and picking up 10 important points on the road to Louisville. The 3-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior now has 20 points, just four behind the division leader.
Manny Franco settled Firenze Fire at the rear of the field leaving the gate in the one-mile race and the colt traveled four or five wide down the backstretch. Franco sent him after the leaders five wide on the turn and Firenze Fire picked off his rivals one by one until only Seven Trumpets stood between him and his third stakes victory. It took the entire length of the stretch to do it, but Firenze Fire nailed Seven Trumpets in the final strides, winning by a head. It was another 5 1/4 lengths back to the third-place finisher.
The victory was worth $90,000 for Ron Lombardi’s Mr. Amore Stables, raising his 6-race total to $539,100. His owner is looking ahead to the Gr. III, one-mile Gotham at Aqueduct on March 10, then the Gr. II Wood Memorial at Belmont Park on April 7. The Wood currently carries a purse of $750,000, but there will be a $250,000 increase if there’s a Gr. I winner in the field. Firenze Fire won the Gr. I Champagne in the fall, making the Wood worth $1 million if he makes it into the entries.