Servis holds strong hand in 2019 Gravesend Stakes

December 20th, 2019

Trainer Jason Servis has been hot at Aqueduct in recent weeks, with 11 wins from his last 41 starters. He’ll be especially formidable in the $100,000 Gravesend Stakes on December 22, when he'll saddle the two probable favorites.

By far the most accomplished of the Servis duo is #2 Firenze Fire, winner of the 2017 Champagne Stakes (G1). While many of Firenze Fire’s strongest performances have come at Belmont Park, he’s proven perfectly capable of taking his "A" game on the road. He most recently rolled to a decisive, 4 1/4-length score in the Fabulous Strike Stakes at Penn National.

From a Brisnet speed rating perspective, Firenze Fire towers over the Gravesend field. He’s been very effective over this six-furlong distance and won the 2018 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. With hot jockey Jose Lezcano in the saddle, Firenze Fire will be tough to beat.

Arguably the only horse Firenze Fire has to fear is his stablemate, #6 Happy Farm. Claimed by Servis in March, Happy Farm finished second first time out for his new connections, then rattled off four consecutive victories as he stepped up steadily in class.

Happy Farm elevated his game to a new level in the six-furlong Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct just two weeks ago. After he pressed a quick pace, Happy Farm took the lead and held off all challengers to gamely prevail. Contrary to what the past performances might suggest, I don't think anyone was ever going to catch Happy Farm. He had his rivals measured through the final sixteenth of a mile.
In terms of Brisnet speed ratings, Happy Farm isn’t quite as fast as Firenze Fire, but Servis has this 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper heading in the right direction. Happy Farm figures to sit a comfortable trip, pressing #5 Seethisquick in a compact field, which gives him every chance to kick on and vie for victory down the lane.

If you’re feeling bold and want to gamble on an improving sprinter from the barn of a high-percentage trainer, Happy Farm could be worth a win bet. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with placing a hefty Firenze Fire/Happy Farm exacta and calling it a day. Servis appears to have the Gravesend surrounded, and if his two sprinters run to expectations, they’ll run 1-2, no sweat.

$20 exacta: 2 with 6

Good luck!