The Road to the Kentucky Derby gets off to a fast start in 2016 with the first points race of the New Year as a field of eight head to the gate in the $200,000 Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct.
10 Derby points races were run in 2015, and there are 25 more to go before a field of 20 will head to the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Nyquist is the current leader in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings with 30.
The Jerome will offer 10-4-2-1 points to the first four finishers in the one mile and 70 yard test on the inner track.
The Chad Brown trained Flexibility is the even money favorite in the Jerome. The colt ran second to Mohaymen in both the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2) in his last two starts. Mohaymen is the early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby, currently listed at +500.
In the Remsen the colt prompted the early pace and could not match strides late with the winner, coming up 1 ½ lengths short. He should get a similar trip today sitting just off the pace under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Condo King and Bird of Trey figure to be part of the early pace. King Kranz was entered and may have been part of the early mix but likely will scratch to run in Friday’s Lost in the Fog Stakes.
They are not Derby points races but both the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man and the $100,000 Hutcheson (G3) at Gulfstream Park could produce Derby hopefuls.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include all of the stakes action and I will be providing full card reports for both Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 8 The Jerome G3 (Post time 3:50 ET)
#4 Flexibility 1-1
#6 Bird of Trey 10-1
#5 Vorticity 4-1
#7 Condo King 5-1
Analysis: Flexibility is the one to beat here and is likely going to be a very short price. The Chad Brown trainee is coming off runner up finishes in the Nashua (G2) and Remsen where he could not get to Mohaymen in the stretch., That foe is the current early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby. The $185,000 purchase has shown improvement in each outing and owns the top last out speed fig. He should get a good tracking trip off what could be a sharp pace.
Bird of Trey dueled for the early lead and drew clear late to win the Pennsylvania Nursery against state breds last out at Philly. The colt has moved forward in each of his starts and now goes two turns for the first time here for the John Servis barn that is 23% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route. Servis trained Smarty Jones, who won the Pennsylvania Futurity on his way to winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness later that spring, with his Triple Crown bid ended by Birdstone, this guy’s sire. He is out of the stakes winner Take Me Home Too ($73,903), the stakes win coming at six furlongs.
Vorticity won the Marylander last out at Laurel Park going seven furlongs and will be making his first start around two turns. He is by Distorted Humor out of the stakes winner Tar Heel Mom ($832,892). The $220,000 purchase is trained by James Lawrence who is 11% winners moving runners from sprint to route.
WIN: #4 to win at 6-5 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 4,5,6,7
TRI: 4,6 / 4,5,6,7 / 3,4,5,6,7
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