News and STORIES
Firenze Fire Will Make Seasonal Debut in General George
Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Friday February 14, 2020
Mr Amore Stable's Grade 1-winning millionaire homebred Firenze Fire is set to make his seasonal and Maryland debuts in the $250,000 General George Stakes (G3) at Laurel Park over seven furlongs. The race will run on Feb. 15.
The Florida-bred Firenze Fire, a son of Poseidon's Warrior, has scored nine of his 23 career starts. Eight of his wins were in stakes races.
Trained by Jason Servis, Firenze Fire's last race came when he won the Dec. 22 Gravesend Stakes over six furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack. Before that race, he scored the Fabulous Strike Stakes at Penn National, and that came after he finished fifth in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
"He's a tough horse, seasoned," Servis said. "He's a homebred, and I think you've definitely got to single him out from the rest of the crowd. I remember the first time I ran him, we didn't expect him to win, and he won. Then we went to Saratoga, and I wasn't expecting him to win, and he won again. I said, 'Oh, what do we have here?'"
Racing With Stakes Company
Since his debut win at Monmouth Park in June 2017, he has raced only with stakes company. He scored the Sanford (G3) in his second start, and two starts later he won the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. After that win, he joined champion Justify on the Triple Crown trail. Justify went on to become the first undefeated Triple Crown winner.
Firenze Fire took graded wins in the Dwyer Stakes (G3) and Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) after coming off the Triple Crown trail. Even with his wins at six furlongs, Firenze Fire is winless with one second and one third in three lifetime races going seven-eights of a mile.
"I don't think the seven furlongs is a big deal. He won the Dwyer, which is a mile, with a big speed figure, so I don't think the distance will be an issue," Servis said. "He's run and won at a lot of different racetracks, so we're going to give it a whirl."
Irad Ortiz Jr., a two-time Eclipse Award winner, will be the jockey on board Firenze Fire from post 6, and they will carry the highweight at 122 pounds. After taking the Gravesend, Firenze Fire has logged three timed works at Belmont Park.
"He didn't really have any break," Servis said. "He ran a couple times close together, and we were leaning on him pretty good, so we just wanted to space his next race out."
Still Having Fun
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, and Terp Racing's grade 2 winner Still Having Fun will make his third start off a layoff in the General George. The General George has been on the 5-year-old Old Fashioned gelding's radar since he returned to his barn last fall after a five-month break.
"This has always been kind of our short-term goal with him. I know it's going to be a tough field, but the reality is every race we run him in is tough. We want to see how he can compete against these guys," said trainer Timothy Keefe. "We do have the benefit this time, of walking out of our stall and being here at our home track, which certainly is going to benefit us, I believe. Hopefully, we get a good trip."
In the six-furlong Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Dec. 7., which was his first race in seven months, Still Having Fun finished second against fellow Maryland-breds. In his last race, he finished fifth behind grade 1 winner Mind Control in the seven-furlong Toboggan Stakes (G3) Jan. 18 at Aqueduct.
"The way the race set up wasn't really the way we hoped it would up in New York, but he came out of the race super," Keefe said. "Nobody else really wanted (the lead). This horse will do whatever you ask him to do. I was a little bit surprised he was up there, but not completely. We're pleased. I think he's coming into it well."
Still Having Fun was seventh as the favorite in the General George last year.
"He only got beat a few lengths. He'd had a hard campaign with no time off and had been all over the place. We were kind of at the point when I ran him last year where he was a well-run, well-traveled horse," Keefe said. "He had done a lot up to that point. The difference now is this is just his third race back off a long layoff, which I think is a big positive."
Feargal Lynch will be the jockey from post 4.
Tiz He the One and Wicked Trick
Lady Sheila Stable and Iris Smith Stable's Tiz He the One has five wins and two thirds from nine starts at Laurel. His only career stakes win came in the seven-furlong Challedon Stakes Sept. 28 in his seasonal finale. He then went on to finish third behind Honor the Fleet in his 6-year-old debut in the Jan. 18 Fire Plug Stakes.
Wicked Trick, stablemate of Tiz He the One, is also entered into the race. The 5-year-old gelding is on a five-race win streak. They will break from outside posts 8 and 9, respectively.
The field will be completed by Honor the Fleet, Factor It In, Lone Rock, Threes Over Deuces, and Wonderful Light.