Jerome Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis

December 30, 2018 03:26pm

The 2019 Kentucky Derby continues New Year's Day at Aqueduct, where a field of six, led by Mind Control, converges for the $150,000 Jerome Stakes going a one-turn mile.

Although the Jerome isn't known for producing major contenders in the Run for the Roses, it has in recent years produced horses like
Firenze Fire and Vyjack, who went on to win multiple graded stakes races during their noteworthy racing careers.

Here is a look at the field that will be competing for Derby qualifying points (10-4-2-1 to the Top 4 finishers) along with a projected morning line by Horse Racing Nation:

Direct Order [ML 6-1 – New Year’s Day – Jason Servis/J. Lezcano – 4: 2-0-1 - $73,650] This Jason Servis trainee has run a well-spaced campaign, starting when he debuted on turf and ran greenly in mid-July. In his next start at the Jersey Shore, Director Order finished third behind the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up, Uncle Benny. Dodging that competition, he broke his maiden as he should have at Parx Racing while getting some class relief. Most recently, Direct Order stayed sprinting and rallied from off the pace to win an Aqueduct allowance on Nov. 29. Servis won last year's Jerome with Firenze Fire. Use Underneath.

Family Biz [ML 20-1 – Fed Biz – E. Barker/D. Davis – 4: 1-2-1 - $72,500] Family Biz broke his maiden in his fourth race while going seven furlongs and running for the first time with Lasix. He did it against an impressive next-our winner named Haikal, and in the Jerome sports home track advantage, as he has been training on the main track there. Family Biz is another horse that likes to race from off the pace. Toss.

Mind Control [ML 8-5 – Stay Thirsty – G. Sacco/J. Velazquez – 4: 2-1-0 - $240,900] Mind Control is the leading money winner in the field and the only one with a graded stakes victory. He led the entire way going seven furlongs in Saratoga's Hopeful (G1) and in the process beat the well-regarded Mucho and Nitrous. He did not get the best of trips last time in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, plus trainer Greg Sacco said his horse didn't handle the ship to Kentucky well. As a result, Mind Control's remianing in New York and looks like the one to beat here. The top choice.

Our Braintrust [ML 7-2 – Freud – C. Lynch/J. Vargas Jr. – 3: 2-1-0 - $136,640] This Maryland-bred son of Freud is the other stakes winner in the Jerome field. He won the Tremont at Belmont Park over a nice field back in June, then after six months off came back to run second in the seven-furlong Maryland Millions Futurity while rallying from off the pace. He looks like one that will appreciate the mile distance. Use underneath.

Gates of Dawn [ML 8-1 – Arch – John Servis/F. Pennington – 2: 1-1-0 - $36,000] In a battle of the Servis brothers, Gates of Dawn ran second to Direct Order in his debut and then came back in his next start at Parx to take the field gate to wire and break his maiden. When John Servis brings his horses to a New York stakes race, they usually run well. He, as with others in the field, will try and jump up in class carrying in just a maiden victory. Use underneath.

Souper Jackpot [ML 2-1 – Ghostzapper – M. Casse/J. Alvarado – 3: 1-1-0 - $53,984] This Mark Casse runner battled on the front end and just missed the top spot in Gulfstream Park's Smooth Air. That race was at the mile distance of Tuesday's race. No doubt he will contend for favoritism with Mind Control. Casse does not hesitate to ship his horses around the country, especially to accumulate Derby qualifying points. Second choice.

: The Jerome appears to come down to the likely favorite Mind Control, who enters as the only graded winner and one of two contenders with any stakes victory at all. After his impressive score in the Hopeful (G1), he missed some time and had to train up to the Breeders’ Cup.

Handicappers will have to decide if those excuses are legitimate. If they are, Mind Control will be tough to beat at this distance and around one turn. I am inclined to accept that Mind Control is the best horse in the race with his closest competition coming from Super Jackpot, Our Braintrust and Direct Order.


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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