FIRENZE FIRE had no intentions of losing the Forego Stakes on Travers Day, but unfortunately his tactics worked against him. YAUPON was victorious with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. winning his third Forego over the last four years, fending off the biting horse running beside him.
YAUPON was the favorite going into the race and fended off the fired up FIRENZE FIRE, finishing the seven furlongs in 1:21.74 on a fast track.
Although it was "kind of scary," Santana said the only thing he could think was "Don't stop riding."
"It's very exciting to have a winner of the Grade 1 Forego Stakes for the Heiligbrodts," said Steve Asmussen. "But that finish made it that much more dramatic. I will watch that replay many times in the future. For that to happen in a Grade 1 at Saratoga with two horses on the lead, that will be memorable."
Perhaps FIRENZE FIRE learned this savage maneuver from WHERESHETOLDMETGO when he was on the receiving end of biting in the stretch. He narrowly won the Grade 3 Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx in 2018.
Had FIRENZE FIRE been successful in his attempts to win, he would have been disqualified by the stewards. The replay video even shows him biting YAUPON'S bridle while jockey Jose Ortiz tried to grab a hold of his mount's right rein. Ortiz believes that it did cost him the race, as he was in the perfect position to overcome YAUPON in the stretch.
Trainer Kelly Breen was surprised by the horse's tenacity stating he had never seen him do anything like that before.
Both horses are leading contenders for this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar, so they may very well meet again in the stretch.