Love for Racing Was ‘Bred in’ Owner/Breeder Ron Lombardi

December 18, 2020

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Owner/breeder Ron Lombardi will travel from New Jersey to South Florida this weekend to watch Firenze Fire run in Saturday’s $100,000 Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

The President and CEO of SportsCare Physical Therapy centers in New York, New Jersey and Florida will bring with him a passion for Thoroughbred racing that goes back to his childhood days.

“We had a house in Long Branch, about a mile from the Monmouth. Every Friday night when I was 5-6 years old, we’d get in the car with my dad and uncles and drive from Long Branch to the park to wait for the train to come in so we could get the Telegraph hot off the presses, so they could handicap the night before,” Lombardi said. “Back then, you had to be 18 to get into the track, so me and my cousins would go to Monmouth and stand up against the fence to see the horses run by us. It was a lot of fun. It’s been bred in me from way back. I really enjoy it.”

Like father, like son.

“My father had a horse in 1948, He had a heart attack and was told to take some time off from manual labor, so he bought a racehorse. He did that for about a year and a half with my mom. They traveled from Gulfstream to Garden State. They did the circuit and went to Monmouth and through Maryland,” Lombardi said. “The horse paid for them to live for a year and a half and then he went back to work.”

His success in the business world has enabled Lombardi to get involved in Thoroughbred ownership on a much larger scale since claiming his first horse in 2007. His Mr. Amore Stable LLC now has 30 horses in training, 11 yearlings-turning-2 and about 12 weanlings.

Firenze Fire, a homebred, certainly has helped to pay the bills for Lombardi’s venture into Thoroughbred owning and breeding. The 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes winner has earned more than $2.2 million during a 30-race career that includes a start in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, a Grade 1 victory, and a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland Nov. 7.

“Being a homebred means that much more. I buy a lot of horses at auction, but he’s a homebred. What he’s done is just fantastic — $2.2 million. He’s such a solid horse and he always shows up,” Lombardi said. “Even in the Breeders’ Cup, he was a [neck] away from second place. I lost him for a second – we were sitting up a ways from the finish line – and I look up and I saw some white silks cross third. I said, ‘Oh, could that be us?’ It was crazy.”

Firenze Fire is a 5-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior, a stallion who stands for $6,500, and My Every Wish, a mare who never raced again after being claimed by Lombardi out of a second-place finish in a $16,000 maiden claiming race. The offspring of the bargain-basement mating quickly became a Grade 1 winner in the 2017 Champagne (G1) at Belmont.

“That was a shock. He broke his maiden in June and won the Sanford. We ran in the Champagne and beating Good Magic was unbelievable,” Lombardi said. “He’s just been a solid horse. He shows up and gives you everything he has. It’s been a dream come true. I wish I had six more of him.”

While Firenze Fire may be a horse of a lifetime, Lombardi is hoping that My Every Wish will continue to be an overachieving broodmare.

“Firenze Freedom is a half-sister,” said Lombardi of the stakes-placed 3-year-old daughter of Istan. “I have a full brother that’s in training right now. I have another one in the oven, so to speak, so we’ll have another foal who’s a 100-percent match. I also have a weanling by Speightstown.”

Lombardi is looking forward to standing Firenze Fire at stud, most likely in New York.

“I was contemplating – depending on what he did in the Breeders’ Cup – whether to breed him or continue to run him. I had a lot of interest from people, but to me, it made more sense to run him this year,” he said. “There are not many in his class that are still running. He’s got a good following. People love watching him. He tries and shows up every time.”

The Kelly Breen-trained Firenze Fire has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in a 12-horse Mr. Prospector field that includes multiple graded-stakes winner Diamond Oops, rated second at 3-1, and multiple Grade 1 stakes-winner Mind Control.

“He’ll probably run two or three times at Gulfstream,” Lombardi said, “and then we’ll probably ship him to New York for the Carter in Early April.”

Photo: Susie Raisher

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