Firenze Fire packs punch along with extra pounds in Fall Highweight

The Grade III, $200,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, a longtime Thanksgiving staple at Aqueduct, will be renewed this Thursday. The six-furlong sprint drew a field of nine, led by multiple graded stakes winner FIRENZE FIRE. He’ll tote 134 pounds when the gate opens for the Fall Highweight, the seventh of nine on Thanksgiving Day at “The Big A,” at 2:50 p.m. ET.

#2 FIRENZE FIRE (8-5, morning-line favorite) was no match for Mitole in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint when last seen. He gets a needed drop in class after dropping five straight Grade I events. However, FIRENZE FIRE was very game in defeat two-back to Imperial Hint in the Vosburgh. He has a win and place in four prior starts at Aqueduct and owns a respectable 7-3-1-1 record at six furlongs. FIRENZE FIRE would be a logical winner of the Fall Highweight under Irad Ortiz Jr, but he has earnest competition.

#4 RECRUITING READY (3-1) figures to work out an ideal stalking trip just behind an honest pace carrying 132 pounds. Jose Ortiz takes over in the irons following a 3 3/4-length romp in the Bet On Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs earlier this month. RECRUITING READY has competitive speed figures and loves the distance (15-7-2-2 record) as well as the course (1-for-1). He is a must-use in all wagers.

#9 HAPPY FARM (8-1) looks live at a decent price despite the bump up in class. He had a case of “seconditis” over last winter at Aqueduct before being claimed by Jason Servis, who also trains FIRENZE FIRE. In three races from July to October, HAPPY FARM has been in peak form, winning three straight while negotiating a class hike each time. He’ll have Jose Lezcano aboard as he tries to spring the upset at 125 pounds.

The play: $6 exacta 2/4, $4 exacta 2/9, $4 exacta 4/2, $3 exacta 4/9, $3 win 9 ($20)

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