Trio set for Gulfstream Park scrap

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Firenze Fire, Mind Control, and Diamond Oops are the headline trio set to draw swords this Saturday at Gulfstream Park in a mouthwatering renewal of the $100,000 Grade 3 Mr. Prospector.

The threesome are multiple graded stakes-winning veterans and add plenty of spice to a dozen-strong line-up set to do battle over seven furlongs in the 66th running of the Mr. Prospector.

The Kelly Breen-trained Firenze Fire finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last month at Keeneland and missed out on a run in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile this month owing to a sloppy track.

The five-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior has already amassed $2.2m in career earnings and his trainer was happy with his Breeders’ Cup run, as he rallied from back in the pack to just miss out on grabbing second in a race won by Whitmore.

Firenze Fire, winner of the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont as a juvenile, has maintained his form in fine style through his career, bagging graded stakes wins in each of his subsequent years in training, including three so far in 2020.

Firenze Fire is scheduled to run at Gulfstream Park for the first time in his career and the sole worry would be a sloppy track for Irad Ortiz’s mount.

“He’s won on seven tracks. Of his 12 wins, seven have been at different tracks,” said part-owner Ron Lombardi. “I think he likes a harder surface better than a softer surface, so I think Gulfstream will serve him well.”

It was a similar tale for the Greg Sacco-trained Mind Control this month as he, too, dipped out of the Cigar Mile on account of conditions.

After launching his 2020 season with wins in the Toboggan (G3) and Tom Fool (G3) at Aqueduct, Mind Control has gone 0-5 since. He did manage third behind Volatile and Whitmore in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga, but comes into this assignment having posted a disappointing ninth in the seven-furlong Lafayette at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup undercard last month.

Johnny Velazquez is set to ride on Saturday and Sacco is pinning his hopes on a change of fortune.

“It’s been a little bit of a hard luck year. He started out the year super and then Covid hit,” said the trainer. “The Carter got pushed back and he hit the slop and he hates the slop. We ran him back in the Vanderbilt and he ran super. We were back on track and we hit the slop again.

“We brought him back to Monmouth to give him an easier race to give him a confidence booster. He got a rough trip that day and got checked back on the backstretch. The race at Keeneland, a horse gave way right in front of him and Johnny [Velazquez] had to snatch him up. We’ve been sort of a victim of circumstances this year.”

Diamond Oops, meanwhile, was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on his last start, ensuring the Patrick Biancone inmate has a length to find with third-place Firenze Fire on that meeting.

Winner of the Mr. Prospector a year ago, Diamond Oops has already got a brace of Grade 2 wins on his CV in 2020 via the Churchill Downs Turf Sprint (G2) and the Phoenix (G2) on Keeneland’s main track.

His trainer is non-committal on a possible repeat bid for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream next month, with Diamond Oops having been third in the $3m contest this year.

“He’s just a good horse,” Biancone said. “We go one race at a time. We’re going race by race. We’ll see how we go. It’s a long way [off].”