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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Firenze Fire Completes Major Gotham Work


Servis Says Colt Can't Get No Respect

Grade I winner Firenze Fire turned in his final work for Saturday's Gotham Stakes on a windy Sunday morning at Belmont Park.

The Jason Servis trainee, a Mr. Amore Stable homebred, took to the training track in company shortly after 9:30 a.m. with jockey Manny Franco aboard. Firenze Fire broke off at the fifth-eighths pole a few lengths behind his stablemate, 5-year-old allowance winner Whatstotalkabout.

The pair covered the first furlong in a leisurely 14.20 and picked up the pace as they rounded the turn. Firenze Fire rated comfortably behind his workmate and, when tipped to the outside by Franco, responded with a strong kick inside the eighth pole to finish about 1 1/2 length ahead at the wire and galloped out a solid quarter-mile.

Firenze Fire earned an official half-mile time of 50.69 seconds.

"It's the same as he always works. He's kind of a plugging-along horse," said Servis. "He's taken dirt in his races, and I know he's pretty fit at this point, but I still want him to stay behind horses and gallop out a little bit."

The Gotham will be the third local Derby prep for Firenze Fire, who recorded a half-length victory with Franco aboard in the one-mile Jerome on Jan. 13. Last time out, he finished a hard-fought second in the 1 1/8-mile Withers at 1 1/8 on Feb. 3, only his second try around two turns.

As a 2-year-old, the Poseidon's Warrior colt won Saratoga's prestigious Sanford and finished fourth in the Hopeful at Saratoga before posting a half-length win over eventual 2-year-old champion Good Magic in the Champagne Stakes on Oct. 7 at Belmont. Firenze Fire made his two-turn debut while finishing a distant seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Del Mar, won by Good Magic by 4 1/2 lengths.

As part of the Kentucky Derby Championship series, the Gotham awards 85 qualifying points, on a 50-20-10-5 scale. Firenze Fire sits fourth on the Derby leaderboard with 24 points.

"He doesn't get much respect sometimes," said Servis. "He's kind of a Rodney Dangerfield, I don't get it. He ran a mile and an eighth, and it didn't look like he had trouble with it. He kind of made a middle move and just couldn't get to that horse, but it wasn't like he stopped or anything. I think if he's ridden right, he'll get a mile and a quarter. But, he's got to get the points first."

Franco will ride Firenze Fire in the Gotham, while Trevor McCarthy, who was aboard for Firenze Fire's runner-up finish in the Withers, breezed Servis' other probable Gotham starter, undefeated New Jersey-bred Dial Operator, on Sunday morning.

A lightly raced chestnut colt by Dialed In, Dial Operator got loose briefly near the gap of the training track but was apprehended without incident and went on to work a half-mile in 50.20.

Dial Operator broke his maiden by 1 1/4 lengths at first asking against state-breds last July at Monmouth Park and returned from an eight-month layoff to register a 4 1/2-length score in a 5 1/2-furlong optional claimer on Feb. 4 at Laurel Park.

Gotham Probables:  Afleet Ascent (trained by Jerry Hollendorfer); Beautiful Shot (Keith Desormeaux); Dial Operator (Jason Servis); Firenze Fire (Jason Servis); Free Drop Billy (Dale Romans); Nine Route (Jeremiah Englehart); Quip (Rodolphe Brisset); Whereshetoldmetogo (Anthony Pecoraro);

Possible: A Different Style (John Servis); Cove Blue (Romans); Diamond King (John Servis); Enticed (Kiaran McLaughlin)

Edited NYRA release

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