07/31/2008 12:00AM

Ferocious Fires draws off


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ferocious Fires was back on the main track, back against statebreds, and as a result back in the winner's circle once again after cruising to a 4 1/4-length victory over Endless Circle in Thursday's $82,900 John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga.

Ferocious Fires, a 5-year-old son of Lite the Fuse trained by Anthony Dutrow, made his belated 2008 debut against open company on the turf at Belmont Park earlier this month, racing near the rear of the pack before finishing sixth behind Buffalo Man in the Inside the Beltway Stakes. But the effort obviously set him up perfectly for the 6 1/2-furlong John Morrissey, which was restricted to New York-breds that had not won a graded stakes in 2008.

The scratch earlier in the morning of likely pacesetter Market Psychology left the lead up for grabs in the Morrissey, and Cornelio Velasquez, Ferocious Fires's jockey, took full advantage of the situation. Rushing to command inside Endless Circle in the opening furlong, Ferocious Fires contested modest fractions of 22.52 seconds and 45.13 while under a firm hold, shook free in early stretch, then gradually extended his advantage to the wire.

Endless Circle held gamely once relinquishing the lead, reasserting himself in the final sixteenth of a mile to outgame the rail-skimming Prince of Peace and finish second. Stunt Man, the second choice in the field of six, lost his best chance after hopping slightly leaving the gate.

The win was the seventh in eight career starts for Ferocious Fires, who has yet to be defeated on dirt or against New York-breds. The victory was also the third on the day for Velasquez.

Ferocious Fires covered the distance in 1:16.96 and paid $4.40.

"Because he loves Saratoga, we knew we had the Morrissey as an option," said Dutrow, who also won Thursday’s third race with Redefined. "He loves Saratoga. He’s now 3 for 3 here. I’m not sure where we’ll run him next, but the Forego is out there and is a race we would consider."

The Grade 1 Forego will be decided at seven furlongs on Aug. 30.

Ferocious Fires was the front end of an all-Dutrow late daily double. Richard Dutrow Jr. won the finale with Logic Way ($6), who caught Retribution in the final stride of the nightcap after the latter had opened as much as a 15-length lead midway through the optional claiming race for statebreds on the turf.