Fire At Will Runs Down Outadore In Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

Fire At Will defied his 30-1 odds to establish himself as North America’s top 2-year-old on the grass Friday with a powerful stretch drive to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland.

The Declaration of War colt left the gate forwardly placed, and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. acted quickly to get him on the rail from the seven post. Fire at Will and Gretzky the Great tracked early leader Outadore heading into the first turn, avoiding the congested traffic that plagued many of the runners behind them.

Outadore led the field through an opening quarter in :23.64 seconds, with Gretzky the Great pressuring him on the outside. The top three remained in the same position at the half-mile point, crossed in :48.12 seconds, and Outadore appeared to be in a good position to sustain his lead entering and exiting the final turn under Jose Ortiz.

All the while, Santana sat patiently on the rail path, and when Gretzky the Great faltered at the top of the stretch, Fire At Will ran through the seam, and came face-to-face with Outadore with an eighth of a mile to go. Under a hard drive and left-handed urging, Fire at Will kicked away in the stretch, and hit the wire three lengths ahead of middle-moving Battleground, who passed Outadore by a neck in the final jump.

Fire At Will covered the mile on a turf course rated as good in 1:35.81.

The victory was worth $550,000 and increased Fire At Will’s earnings to $687,932 with a record of 4-3-0-0 with all three victories coming in stakes. Mike Maker trained the colt for owner Three Diamonds Farm.

Fire At Will paid $62.40 to win, which was a massive price, considering he came into the race off a two-length win in the G2 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park. Prior to that, he won a rained-off-the-turf edition of the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga Race Course by 1/2 lengths.

Bred in Kentucky by Troy Rankin, Fire at Will is out of the unplaced Kitten’s Joy mare Flirt. He sold to Three Diamonds Farm for $97,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Race Quotes courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup Notes Team:

Winning trainer Mike Maker (Fire At Will) – “I tell you, we have been high on him since day one and with each race he’s got better. It’s very satisfying to get Three Diamonds Farm their very first Breeders’ Cup win.”

Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Fire At Will) – “I got a beautiful trip. I had plenty of horse in the tank. Thank God everything played out perfect.”

On timing: “He put me where he wanted to be and that’s why we won.”  

Second-place jockey Ryan Moore (Battleground) – “My horse ran super. Very happy with him.” 

Third-place trainer Wesley Ward (Outadore) – “He ran great. I thought that the fractions were decent to where he could kick on. Talking to Jose, he said when he turned for home he dropped into another gear as we expected. But, take nothing away from that winner. He ran away from us. (The winner) ran a big, big race.” 

Third-place jockey Jose Ortiz (Outadore) – “He got a little tired the last sixteenth, but he ran a helluva race. He was ready 100 percent. Wesley had him ready.”  

Fourth-place trainer Jessica Harrington (Cadillac) – “He ran a great race. Shane said he got into a bun fight early on which pushed him back to eighth and messed the race up for him. But I’m really pleased with his run and especially the way he stayed on to the line.

Fourth-place jockey Shane Foley (Cadillac) – “He had a bad trip after the first bend. He then got a nice run later on and he hit the line really well.”

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