Firenze Fire returns to Breeders’ Cup Sprint

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Keeneland will host this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Trainer Kelly Breen is hopeful that “versatile” Firenze Fire can play a leading role in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland next month.

The five-year-old will be making his fourth Breeders’ Cup appearance and Breen feels he can have a positive impact on the race.

Winner of the Grade 2 Vosburgh Stakes on his most recent start at Belmont Park last month, Firenze Fire showed a strong turn of foot in the home stretch to get the best of favourite Funny Guy in that contest.

The likes of Grade 1 Met Mile winner Vekoma and Grade 2 Phoenix winner Diamond Oops are amongst the probable opposition but Breen believes Firenze Fire can have an impact at Keeneland in a race that saw him finish fifth last year as Mitole triumphed.

“As of right now all systems are go,” Breen said. “He’s all good. I think it’s a wide-open race. He’s a little versatile. He could be on the pace or off the pace.”

Breen also confirmed that Firenze Fire will most likely be ridden by Jose Lezcano in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, the jockey having partnered him to that Vosburgh success last month at Belmont.

The Vosburgh was Firenze Fire’s third win in a six-race 2020 campaign to date. He returned to action when scooping the Grade 3 General George at Laurel Park in February and also bagged the Grade 2 True North at Belmont in June.

In between times he has finished out of the placings in a pair of top-level assignments at Saratoga in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and the Forego Stakes.

His previous Breeders’ Cup attempts have been noble without success. He was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar in 2017 and fourth a year later in the Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs before last year’s fifth placing in Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, Breen has suggested that Monmouth Park’s recent Smoke Glacken Stakes winner Pickin’ Time could be aimed at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, though a firm decision has not yet been made on that target.

Ahead of the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland on November 6th-7th, Breen admits that he’s keen to wait and see how the field is shaping up before settling on a definite plan with Pickin’ Time.

“We have to see who’s running,” Breen said. “How healthy he is, all that sort of stuff.”