Fire Key sparks an up­set in the Flo­ral Park

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stan Hudy shudy@sarato­gian.com @StanHudy on Twit­ter

ELMONT, N.Y. >> Back­wards Sta­ble home­bred Fire Key, sent to post at odds of 7-1, pro­vided a mi­nor up­set with a wide-ral­ly­ing ef­fort in the in­au­gu­ral run­ning of the $100,000 Flo­ral Park, a six­fur­long turf sprint for fil­lies and mares 3-years-old and up­wards.

Trained by Pa­trick Kelly, the 5-year-old daugh­ter of Friesan Fire, pa­tiently pi­loted by Ju­lian Pi­mentel, set­tled well off the early pace of Bat­tle Joined be­fore spring­ing to life late in the lane to se­cure the three- quar­ter­length score over a yield­ing in­ner turf course. The vic­tory marked back-to-back stakes scores for the tal­ented dark bay mare who ar­rived at the Flo­ral Park froma nose de­ci­sion inthe Sen­si­ble Lady Turf Dash at Lau­rel Park. The lat­ter vic­tory came on the heels of a dis­ap­point­ing 11th in the Smart N Fancy at Saratoga.

“We fi­nally have things headed in the right di­rec­tion,” said Kelly. “We had a rough Saratoga with the real soft turf and then we had trou­ble last time, so noth­ing you can do about that, but Fire Key bounced back.

“She ran a nice race in Mary­land and even bet­ter to­day. She loves it here at Bel­mont,” con­tin­ued Kelly. “She learned to re­lax this year, she used to speed her­self, but she’s re­ally learned to re­lax which helps her fin­ish a lot stronger. She’s had some races here where the turf has been yield­ing. For some rea­son, her race this sum­mer at Saratoga when it was soft turf she didn’t like at all and maybe it’s just a dif­fer­ent kind of turf course up there. This is home and she had a real nice workhere last Sun­day and she ran back to it. She’s a nice filly.”

Bat­tle Joined set a con­tested Flo­ral Park open­ing quar­ter of 23.08 sec­onds un­der pres­sure from Black Ca­nary, who flew to the front through the turn to mark the half-mile in 47.78. Fear No Evil, ad­vanc­ing con­fi­dently un­der David Co­hen late in the turn, bat­tled gamely with Black Ca­nary to gain a brief ad­van­tage but was no­match for Fire Key who found her best stride late. Fear No Evil com­pleted the ex­acta 4 ¼ lengths in front of Black Ca­nary. Fire Key cov­ered six fur­longs in 1:13.03.

Pi men tel was pleased with the trip he en­gi­neered for Fire Key.

“I just wanted to get her to re­lax. That was most im­por­tant. Some­times she gets a lit­tle keen and wants to go early,” said Pi­mentel. “I wanted her to re­lax and make one move. She’s very ca­pa­ble of do­ing any­thing you want. Ev­ery­thing set up for her.”

Fire Key, bred in New York by her own­ers, banked $57,750 in vic­tory while im­prov­ing her record to 7-7-1 from 23 ca­reer starts. A Sil­ver mem­ber of the NYRA Starter Loy­alty Pro­gram, Fire Key re­turned $16.60. It was the third stakes win for the home­bred who pre­vi­ously cap­tured the Au­tumn Day Stakes last Novem­ber at Aque­duct.

Rocky Pol­icy, Lady Alexan­dra, An­nie Rocks, Orec­chi­ette, Al­ways Think­ing, Lull, Yorkiepoo Princess and Posse Needed were scratched.

One race later, Stella di Camelot over came as low be­gin­ning in the $200,000 Peb­bles for 3- year-old fil­lies on the Wi­dener turf to win her U.S. de­but by 2 ¾ lengths for trainer Chad Brown.

The Ir­ish-bred Camelot filly broke last in the field of nine un­der Eric Can­cel, but ad­vanced into mid-pack as Closer Still led through a quar­ter-mile in 23.72. Closer Still re­tained a nar­row ad­van­tage over An­d­ina Del Sur while Stella di Camelot moved into fourth af­ter a half in 47.75.

An­d­ina Del Sur took over in the far turn as Stella di Camelot launched an out­side bid at the top of the stretch, seiz­ing com­mand at the eighth pole to kick clear un­der the wire. The fi­nal time for one mile was 1:38.58 on the Wi­dener course listed as soft.

Owned by Madaket Sta­bles, Michael Dubb, Kent Spell­man, and Beth­le­hem Sta­bles, Stella di Camelot re­turned $19.60 at odds of 8-1.

An­d­ina Del Sur was a se­cure sec­ond, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Vic­torine in third. Souper Strik­ing, Closer Still, Altea, Got Stormy, Kit­ten’s Cover­girl, and Monte Crista com­pleted the or­der of fin­ish. Cool Beans, Good things take time, and Sig­nif­i­cant Form scratched.

It was the third ca­reer vic­tory for Stella di Camelot, who won a one-mile al­lowance in May last time out in France be­fore trans­fer­ring to Brown. The $110,000 win­ner’s share of the Peb­bles purse im­proved her ca­reer earn­ings to $175,989.

“She broke a lit­tle slow from the gate which isn’t un­com­mon first time in the coun­try with some of these horses,” said Brown. “I thought Eric did a re­ally good job to put her right back into the race. Down the back­side, he had a choice to make to go through a lit­tle tight hole there and just keep ad­vanc­ing and he took it. I’m real proud of this kid. He rode a great race.

“The filly ran su­per first time in the coun­try. She had been train­ing re­ally well so I’m not sur­prised she ran this good,” he added. “She’s quite a nice prospect. She’s got a good turn of foot in the morn­ing and she showed it to­day. I’ll get to­gether with the part­ners and de­cide what we’re go­ing to do next.”

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