08/04/2013 8:22PM

Santa Rosa: Fire With Fire dominates Grace Handicap

William G. Vassar
Fire With Fire, under jockey Juan J. Hernandez, wins the Joseph T. Grace Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths Sunday.

Meeting easier company and cutting back in distance paid dividends for Fire With Fire ($5), who scored his first stakes win Sunday while recording his first victory since August 2011, romping to a 2 1/4-length victory in the $52,400 Joseph T. Grace Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The 5-year-old Distorted Humor gelding, coming out of a fifth-place finish in the 1 3/4-mile, Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano and a third in the 1 1/2-mile, Grade 2 San Luis Rey, broke sharply, taking the lead and cruising to victory in the 1 1/16-mile turf race in 1:40.67.

He never was seriously challenged by runner-up Tribal Tribute, who got off to an erratic start but ran second the whole way in the field of five. Grand Berry passed Positive Response in the stretch for third, with Pepnic running last the entire race.

Three runners had to be scratched the morning of the race because of illness.

Fire With Fire earned $31,900 for owner David Heerensperger and has earned $268,344, with three victories in 23 starts. Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale trains.