Firenze Fire wins the Champagne Stakes (Coglianese Photos)
Champagne Stakes Winner Firenze Fire
by Alastair Bull
If you took a quick look at Firenze Fire’s pedigree, you’d wonder how he could stay past six furlongs.
After all, wasn’t his first-season sire Poseidon’s Warrior very much a six-furlong sprinter on the track? Isn’t Poseidon Warrior by the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Speightstown? And wasn’t Firenze Fire’s damsire Langfuhr the Champion Sprinter of Canada?
Yet here he was Oct. 7 looping the field and winning the one-mile Champagne Stakes (G1). It was an effort of a horse that looked like he could stay further.
However, delve a little deeper into the pedigree and it’s not out of the realm that Firenze Fire could stay 1 ¼ miles in the Kentucky Derby.
Poseidon’s Warrior was, along with Treasure Beach, one of the inaugural stallions at Pleasant Acres Stallions in Florida, where he stands for $6,500. Of the 51 foals in his first crop, 29 raced as juveniles, and six of them were winners.
Poseidon’s Warrior was kept to six furlongs for most of his career. He won ungraded stakes at that distance as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old, but was best at four, winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) and finishing third in the Vosburgh (G1), both at six furlongs. His half-brother Play Bingo (Polish Numbers) won up to 1 1/16 miles on turf, but most of his family were sprinters.
However, it’s worth noting that Speightstown, though a sprinter himself, has sired grade one winners at 1 ¼ miles, including Haynesfield (Jockey Club Gold Cup), Golden Ticket (Travers Stakes), Seek Again (Hollywood Derby), and Force the Pass (Belmont Derby).
Langfuhr, whose grade one victories were between seven furlongs and a mile, has also proved capable of getting progeny that could stay further. They include the Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Lawyer Ron, Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando, and several other horses that stayed 1 ½ miles or further on turf, including the 2-mile Perth Cup (G2) winner Black Tom.
Firenze Fire’s dam My Every Wish ran twice for two second-place finishes. Her dam With Every Wish was stakes-placed at up to 1 1/16 miles on turf; she is the second dam of Lady Joanne, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes (G1) and fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
There’s enough in the pedigree, therefore, to suggest 1 ¼ miles is not out of Firenze Fire’s reach.
A fever prevented Firenze Fire finishing closer than seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), though the Champagne Stakes form was flattered not only by Good Magic winning that race, but with third-place finisher Enticed then winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
Firenze Fire produced a good effort to win the Jerome Stakes in January, coming from last in a very slowly-run race to defeat the front-running Seven Trumpets. The way he gets to the line suggests he can stay further than a mile, and Derby punters should watch how strong he looks at the finish of races as the distances lengthen.
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