03/01/2013 12:51PM

Santa Anita: Fire With Fire long overdue to clear second allowance condition

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Benoit & Associates
Ivanho will seek his third win on grass of the meet in Sunday's allowance feature.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The consistent gelding Fire With Fire probably should have knocked out his second allowance condition a long time ago. In California, he has tried to win it six times.

Sunday at Santa Anita, Fire With Fire will try again in the eighth-race feature. Nine older grass horses race at 1 1/8 miles in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer, a class level that has frustrated Fire With Fire.

It was one year ago on March 29 when he began the West Coast portion of his career at the level. The race was the first for Fire With Fire since he was sold, gelded, and shipped to trainer Neil Drysdale.

He finished second by a neck. The tone was set.

Over the next 11 months, Fire With Fire kept coming close. He posted five runner-up finishes from six tries at the level, interspersed with four losses in long-distance Grade 3’s. Fire With Fire was a cut below stakes quality, and a nose from a second-level allowance victory.

After a creditable fourth-place finish last out in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes, Fire With Fire returns to the same level at which he missed by a nose Jan. 6. Garrett Gomez will ride the 5-year-old Fire With Fire for the first time in a race that could set up perfectly for him.

Key Decision is quick enough to set the pace, which would allow Fire With Fire a comfortable trip alone in second. If the pacesetter falters as expected, Fire With Fire would be get first run. It will be Gomez’s job to keep him running through the wire.

But if Fire With Fire gets collared again, it might be by Ivanho. A first-level allowance win Feb. 2 was the second win of the meet for Ivanho, and his first since trainer Mike Mitchell claimed him for $32,000.

Ivanho was also stuck a long time in the lower allowance ranks. His career record going into winter was 1 for 18. But the 5-year-old Ivanho has rediscovered how to win, and on Sunday he could become the first horse this meet to win three grass races.

Julien Leparoux rides Ivanho, whose attribute is his closing rally. The style has worked well in nine-furlong turf races.

Although the Santa Anita course has played quick, most nine-furlong turf winners rallied from far off the pace. From 14 races at the distance, none was won by the pacesetter; eight were won by horses more than eight lengths behind. The profile suits Ivanho.

Shaun Washington, Fast Track, Money Talker, Dreamcatcher, Huntsville, and Smart Ellis are also entered.