Action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby steps up a gear over the next few months, as vital qualifying points will be on the line in prep races. Eye-catching prep action will be staged at Aqueduct this weekend, as the Jerome Stakes is the third race on the card in New York. A small field of five runners will line up in the contest, but it could offer some clues surrounding the Derby in May.
History & Records
The Jerome Stakes is the second oldest stakes race in the U.S., with only the Travers Stakes having been held before the race at Aqueduct. The Jerome has been a key stop for a number of Kentucky Derby winners throughout history, with the most recent horse to win both races coming in the form of Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
It has been an official Derby prep race since 2014, and it has been run over a mile since 2011. Eddie Arcaro is the most successful jockey in the history of the race with six victories, while Sam Hildreth is the dominant trainer throughout history with five wins between 1908 and 1922.
Drum Roll Please
The Brad Cox yard will be represented by Drum Roll Please in the Jerome this weekend. The three-year-old has won once from four career starts, and was last seen finishing a very respectable third in the G2 Remsen over course and distance.
That performance earned a speed figure of 90, and down in grade this weekend, he could be extremely hard to beat for leading connections. However, it would be a slight concern that he wasn’t able to get his nose in front until his third career start, but the strength of his recent run does hold him at the top of the betting.
El Grande O
Linda Rice’s horses are in excellent form at present, and that winning sequence could be set to continue with El Grande O in the Jerome. The three-year-old is one of the most experienced runners in this field after winning three from eight career starts. In fact, he has finished outside of the first three on just a single occasion.
That effort came when finishing sixth in the G1 Champagne Stakes. He bounced back to winning ways in lesser company at the end of October, reaching a speed figure of 85 when landing the Sleepy Hollow Stakes. El Grande O ticks a lot of boxes this weekend, and clearly holds excellent claims at this level.
Brittany Russell’s runner in the race this weekend is Regalo, who could be one of the most progressive contenders in the field. The three-year-old has won on each of his previous two starts, which includes an allowance optional claimer success at the start of December, scoring a speed figure of 82.
He makes the step up in class this weekend, and he could be ready to make a big impression. However, the fact that he has no previous experience at Aqueduct could be a slight concern.
Jerome Stakes Prediction
Drum Roll Please could be the standout contender this weekend for Brad Cox. The three-year-old ran with a lot of credit in Grade 2 company on his previous start, and should be well-positioned to claim points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby back in class this weekend.
Pick: Drum Roll Please