The 2015 Kentucky Derby Trail Begins in the Jerome

January 03, 2015 10:51am
The Road to the 2015 Kentucky Derby begins on Saturday, January 3rd in Ozone Park, NY, at Aqueduct Racetrack. A field of nine has been assembled for the 145th running of the Jerome (G3), which is the second oldest stakes race in the country.

Top Trainers such as: Graham Motion, Todd Pletcher, George Weaver, Rudy Rodriguez, Bill Mott, and John Servis have horses entered in the race, but surprisingly only Rodriguez has ever won the Jerome and that was in 2013 with Vyjack. Vyjack went on to finish 18th in the Kentucky Derby that year.

Let’s take a look at the $200,000 Jerome field, which contains horses that range from graded stakes winner to not having won a race yet.

One graded stakes winner:

#9 El Kabeir (Scat Daddy) - [ML 2-1] – trainer: John Terranova – jockey: Calvin Borel – El Kabeir was purchased for $250,000 as a yearling at OBSAug13 by Zayat Stables. He comes into the Jerome with 11 Kentucky Derby points in hand. This will be his sixth career start, with his most recent being a gate to wire win in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) that earned a BSF of 94, which is the highest in the field. El Kabeir is also the leading money winner with $260,892. He finished second in the Nashua (G2) behind the highly regarded Blofeld. Calvin Borel is slated to travel north to keep the mount on the Zayat runner.

Two restricted stakes winners:

#4 Ostrolenka (Musket Man) - [ML 7-2] – trainer: Todd Pletcher – jockey: Jose Ortiz – Most recently Ostrolenka finished last in the Remsen (G2). Before that he won the Sleepy Hollow for NY-breds at Belmont Park in a one-turn mile. In that race he earned a BSF of 89 while running right with the pacesetter. Ostrolenka is named for a city in Poland 70 miles northeast of Warsaw.

#8 Nasa (Smarty Jones) – [ML 8-1] - trainer: John Servis – jockey: Kendrick Carmouche – Nasa comes from the connections of near Triple Crown winner Smarty Jones. He was bred by Smarty’s owner Patricia Chapman and he is currently in the barn of Smarty’s trainer, John Servis. On Dec. 6 Nasa won the Pennsylvania Nursey at Parx with a gate to wire victory against fellow PA-breds. He broke his maiden against open company at Laurel on Sept. 27 while going seven furlongs.

Three allowance winners:

#1 Mini Cosmo (Unbridled Energy) – [ML 8-1] - trainer: Graham Motion – jockey: Angel Arroyo – Mini Cosmo has travelled from Motion’s home base at Fair Hills in Maryland to break his maiden at Laurel on Nov. 1, then a close fourth in a Parx restricted stake behind Nasa led to his allowance win on Dec. 14 at Parx going a two-turn mile. Mini Cosmo has shown the ability to run from off the pace.

#5 Now We Are Free (First Samurai) - [ML 20 -1] - trainer: Michelle Nevin – jockey: Fernando Jara – Now We Are Free debuted at Saratoga, but needed a five month break before his maiden 25,000 claiming win at Laurel. He won a Nov. allowance at Laurel that was intended for the grass while beating a field of ten and earning a BSF of 65.

#7 Ackeret (Mach Ride) – [ML 4-1] - trainer: Rudy Rodriguez – jockey: Irad Ortiz – Ackeret is owned by Pick Six Racing who won the Jerome in 2013 with Vyjack.  He used his off the pace running style to win a maiden 65,000 claimer at Belmont in October. A fifth place in an open Laurel stake led to his quick Dec. 16 allowance win at Parx that earned a BSF of 86. The Jerome will be his first race around two turns.

Two maiden special weight winners:

#2 Royal Burgh (Street Sense) – [ML 8-1] - trainer: Todd Pletcher – jockey: Manuel Franco – Royal Burgh, a $150,000 purchase as a yearling at KEESep13, is Pletcher’s second runner in the Jerome. He broke his maiden first time out at Keeneland going a distance of ground when he was sent off at 4-1. His second start was a 12th place finish in the Remsen after a bad break. Royal Burgh is named for a Scottish town or burgh that receives a royal charter

#6 General Bellamy (Bellamy Road) – [ML 12-1] - trainer: Bill Mott – jockey: Junior Alvarado – It took General Bellamy three tries to break his maiden at Aqueduct in a one turn mile that was carded for the turf. His front running win came against a field of ten.

One maiden:

#3 Tencendur (Warrior’s Reward) – [ML 30-1] - trainer: George Weaver – jockey: Jeremy Rose – Tencendur’s only race was a third place finish going a mile and 70 on the inner track at Aqueduct on Dec. 12. He went to post at odds of 5.9-1 in a field of six. Tencendur is named for the horse that Charlemagne rode in battle.

The Jerome, which is a mere four months from the Kentucky Derby, has produced only one horse to make the Derby field of 20 since the New York race moved to its January place a couple years ago. At this point El Kabeir appears to be the only horse with a chance to run in the Derby and he surely will go to post in the Jerome as an overwhelming betting favorite.

Post-time for the Jerome, which is carded as race eight out of nine, is scheduled for 3:48pm ET on Saturday when there is a 50% chance of showers and a high of 41 degrees.  


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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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