Race of the Week 2017

The Lumber Guy Back Quickly for Jerome

The Lumber Guy
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
The Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome, the final graded stakes of the Aqueduct Racetrack winter/spring meet, will feature a diverse cast, including stakes winner The Lumber Guy, when the 142nd edition is held on Saturday.


The Lumber Guy, who suffered his first defeat when fifth in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial on April 7, will look to regain the winning thread in the one-mile Jerome.


The Jerome will require a two-week turnaround for The Lumber Guy, who will be cutting back from 1 1/8 miles. In the Wood Memorial, the 3-year-old Grand Slam colt was forced out at the start, recovered to seize a clear lead, and led to the quarter pole before giving way, reporting home 6 ¼ lengths behind winner Gemologist.


“It’s back quicker than I’d like, but I’m anxious to run him in a one-turn mile,” said Michael Hushion, who trains The Lumber Guy for Barry Schwartz. “I think that’s the key, a one-turn mile. A rider can just come out there real quietly, wherever he wants to take him, and make them sort it out for a half mile down the backside.”


Even though Hushion is eager to have The Lumber Guy, who won Laurel Park’s seven-furlong Miracle Wood in February, drop back in distance, the trainer has not eliminated the possibility of stretching him out again later in his career.


“I’m still figuring out what his best distance is,” said Hushion. “Physically, he’d definitely go long, but mentally he’s not ready to go long. Hopefully he’ll start to get the idea and not get panicky once he gets set off a little bit.”


Mike Luzzi will ride The Lumber Guy, the 5-2 morning-line second choice, from the rail.


The other stakes winner in the field is Adirondack King, who took Parx Racing’s 6 ½-furlong Christopher Elser Memorial by six lengths in November. He began his 3-year-old season with a third in Tampa Bay Downs’ Pasco in January, then was third in February’s Grade 3 Southwest and seventh in March’s Grade 2 Rebel, a pair of two-turn races at Oaklawn Park.


“I wasn’t crazy about how he finished in his two-turn races,” said trainer John Servis. “He would make a huge middle move and would flatten out late. We’re cutting back in distance to see how it goes, and we’re taking it race by race.”


Adirondack King enters the Jerome having breezed on Keeneland’s Polytrack April 1 and April 7.


“We originally went to Keeneland and we were thinking about the Blue Grass, but he worked only OK over the Polytrack,” said Servis. “After that, we thought about going to the Derby Trial [Grade 3, April 28, Churchill Downs] before we decided the Jerome was the better spot.”


Kendrick Carmouche will come to Aqueduct to ride Adirondack King, who was installed at 12-1 on the morning line and drew post 6.


Casner Racing and Sam B. Pollock’s Right to Vote will return to New York for the Jerome, having debuted at Saratoga Race Course and made a pair of starts, including a third behind Union Rags and Alpha in the Grade 1 Champagne, at Belmont Park in the fall.


The gelding has raced once in 2012, dueling for the lead, gaining the advantage in midstretch, and holding off a late challenge to win a 6 ½-furlong optional claimer by a head at Gulfstream Park on March 24.


“I never considered him to be a Triple Crown horse, but a race like [the Jerome] has always been under consideration,” said trainer Eoin Harty. “I thought [the optional claimer at Gulfstream] was a good race. He was running erratically, but that will improve with maturity. He won anyway, and he should move forward off that race. I think a mile should be his optimum distance.”


Alex Solis has the assignment aboard Right to Vote, 5-1 on the morning line. The tandem will leave from post 5.


Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has entered a pair in the Jerome in Brigand and Stirred Up, who have been training at Santa Anita Park. Both colts are seeking their first stakes scores after having placed in graded stakes.


Brigand, second in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship in July, seeks his first win as a sophomore, having finished sixth in a turf sprint stakes on February 26 and second in an optional claimer on dirt on March 16. The Jerome will be his first start beyond seven furlongs.


Stirred Up, in contrast, drops back in distance for the Jerome off a third in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby on March 25. He entered the Sunland Derby, in which he finished eight lengths behind winner Daddy Nose Best, off a neck maiden victory at Santa Anita earlier that month.


Corey Nakatani has the assignment aboard Brigand, the 4-1 third choice, from post 2, while Martin Garcia is set to ride Stirred Up, the 2-1 favorite, from post 3.


The field also includes Dan and Sheila, 11th in the Grade 3 Gotham, and Term Loan, who broke his maiden by 4 ½ lengths in his most recent start.


The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome:








The Lumber Guy (NY)

M J Luzzi


M E Hushion



Brigand (NY)

C S Nakatani


B Baffert



Stirred Up (VA)

M Garcia


B Baffert



Dan and Sheila (KY)

R Napravnik


T A Pletcher



Right to Vote (KY)

A O Solis


E G Harty



Adirondack King (KY)

K Carmouche


J C Servis



Term Loan (FL)

A Garcia


R A Violette, Jr.





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