Friday, January 3, 2014

Jerome Stakes Preview

Another fantastic weekend of racing lies before us, highlighted by the first Road to the Kentucky Derby prep of 2014: the G2 Jerome Stakes. Before I get into my analysis of the race, I'd like to announce that @Derbyologist and I have started a weekly video preview series of the Kentucky Derby prep races called Down to the Wire. This is the first week of the series and I hope you'll check it out. Next week, we'll be reviewing the Jerome and previewing the Sham, so if you have any questions regarding either that you'd like us to answer, please let me know before Thursday.



Aqueduct Race 8: G2 Jerome Stakes

The Jerome is highlighted by the return of Noble Moon (Malibu Moon-Mambo Bell, by Kingmambo), who had to scratch from his planned prep in the Remsen after breaking out in hives. On paper, Noble Moon is head and shoulders above the rest of these from a class standpoint. In two starts, he has a win and a third place finish, which came in the G2 Nashua won by Cairo Prince. In the Nashua, he was bumped at the start and was forced to go quite wide in order to make his way near the leaders. The fact that he was able to break his maiden going gate-to-wire and then back that up with an impressive run from the back of the pack, shows he is a versatile young colt, which is valuable come Kentucky Derby time. I'm a big fan of him so much that he is my only Kentucky Derby futures wager. 

That being said, I expect him to rate just off the pace set by Master Lightning and save ground along the rail. Barring any trip troubles, he should simply be too much for these. 

If Noble Moon doesn't get a clean trip, however, look for Scotland (Horse Greeley-Varus, by Vicar) to be in with a chance. He's finished second in his only two races, both Maiden Special Weights, the first of which he lost by a head at Laurel Park. His most recent runner-up finish was over seven furlongs at Aqueduct, in which he was beaten by the Pletched-trained Surfing U S A, who is a really nice colt in his own right. He also finished ahead of Juba, who I also believe will mature into a quality runner. I'd expect Scotland to sit in the latter half of the field before making his move, so he'll need a healthy pace to close into, but based off what he showed in the Remsen, I'm not so sure one can count on Master Lightning to set quick early fractions. 

The only other hose I can fathom winning here is Lawmaker (Malibu Moon-Saratoga Cat, by Sir Cat). He won his only race, a Maiden Special Weight at Laurel Park when he closed nicely into relatively average fractions. Although that victory was impressive, I think he may be a bit outclassed here, but he's a horse to keep an eye on going forward. 

Jerome Stakes Picks: 
Win: #1 Noble Moon (ML 6-5), Place: #2 Scotland (ML 7-2), Show: #3 Lawmaker (ML 8-1)

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If you watched the video preview, then you will have saw that my "Bankroll Play" of the week is a Pick 3 (R6,7,8), which ends on the Jerome. The first leg of that Pick 3 is a Kentucky Oaks prep race, which includes two fillies who I've previously profiled on here as "Horses to Watch": Alpaca Fina and Fleet of Gold

As a reminder, here is my suggested Pick 3: AQU (R6,7,8)-- 1,6,7 / 2,6,8 / 1,2 


As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter (@chare889) and best of luck with your plays. 


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