The Jerome Stakes (GIII), the second-oldest stakes race in the country, was several years ago moved to January on the New York racing calendar in order for it to serve as a Kentucky Derby (GI) prep. And though no winner has emerged to even place in any of the Triple Crown races since that time, some amazing runners have captured the race. Inaugural Derby winner Aristides won the Jerome in 1875 and was followed by names like Duke of Magenta, Kelso, Fair Play, Bold Ruler, Carry Back, Crème Fraiche, Ogygian, Afleet, Housebuster and Fusaichi Pegasus.
This year, a field of eight newly minted sophomores will line up and race the one-turn mile over Aqueduct’s main track in search of the 10 valuable Kentucky Derby points that will be awarded to the winner. The wet, rainy weather that hit the New York area on Friday is expected to subside and give way to colder temperatures and highs only in the mid-40s. The Jerome has been carded as the day’s eighth event, with a post time of 3:50 ET.
Mr. Amore Stables’ Champagne Stakes (GI) winner Firenze Fire, in his first start since a dismal seventh-place finish in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), is the early 3-5 favorite and is definitely the one to beat. The Jason Servis trainee got a few weeks off after his effort at Del Mar, but has been training well at Belmont since for the past six weeks or so. He’s a later runner who will get the pace he likes to run at and, if he runs back (or even close) to his Champagne performance, where he posted a 96 Brisnet Speed Rating, he looks good for the win here under Manny Franco.
Seven Trumpets carries a two-race win skein into this race and faces stakes winners for the first time after maiden and first-level allowance scores. The Dale Romans-trained son of Morning Line hasn’t been beyond sprint distances yet, but he is bred for to get at least a mile. He’s been training well at Gulfstream Park for several weeks, though his works show he’s not much of a morning glory, and his speed numbers show he’s capable of being competitive here. His perfect trip is to stalk the pace, which he’ll likely do under jockey Paco Lopez, and if he handles the distance, he’s a legit choice to not only hit the board, but potentially pick up the win and upset the heavy favorite.
Coltandmississippi had some trouble at the gate as the 2-1 favorite in the Smooth Air stakes at Gulfstream Park a month ago and, actually, had similar trouble in the other loss of his four-race career. The $400,000 son of Pioneerof the Nile, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, may only need a clean break to be effective here, as he exits the innermost post position. He seems to like to stalk the pace, but he adds blinkers today, indicating his connections are looking for more speed from the gate. He’s got some decent works at Palm Beach Downs in Florida heading into this race.
Factor This has spent most of his seven-race career on the turf, but when he returned to the dirt he looked good, breaking his maiden by 1 ¾ lengths at this distance. Aside from the top three, he fits with the rest of the field and probably deserves a longer look for exotics.
Old Time Revival makes his first start against winners after a front-running maiden score at Laurel a month ago. His best could put him in the mix.
Regalian, who was haltered for $50,000 back in October, uses a $50,000 maiden claiming win as a prep for this race. He’ll be part of the early pace scenario, but needs to improve — a lot — to have a shot at a larger share of the pot.
Smooth B hasn’t delivered on the promise he showed breaking his maiden at Parx in August, which earned him a decent 91 BSF. He is a winner at this distance, though, which may help.
Glennwood seems way overmatched here.