The Jerome Stakes is not an official race on the 2013 Kentucky Derby trail, but presents a field of horses that could turn out to be legitimate Derby contenders.
The race is New York's first Kentucky Derby prep race of 2013 and eight promising three-year-olds have been entered for the one mile, 70-yard $200,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct this Saturday.
Owner Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin have another special colt on their hands with Long River, who should be the horse to watch and the one to beat here.
He is the regally-bred first son of the millionaire mare and Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Round Pond by champions stallion A.P.Indy. Irad Ortiz Jr has been aboard on his three starts and gets the return mount.
He started showing promise two starts ago when he finished second to Delhomme on a high prized Maiden Special Weights race on October 13 at Belmont.
Then, he was given a two month lay off and returned on December 15 to break his maiden with a win at the Jerome distance over the Aqueduct track, which sets him up for this race.
Leading trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle Notacatbutallama, the most experienced horse in the field with seven starts to his credit.
He has won three races and finished another three as the runner-up. The only time he finished out of the top two was when he finished fourth in the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga last August.
He is coming off a second-place finish in the Damon Runyan Stakes on a sloppy track at Aqueduct on December 9. That was his first race on dirt and has been working well over the surface for this race.
He is owned by Mike Repole and will be ridden for the first time by Ramon Dominguez, who should be picking up a third consecutive Eclipse Award for Best Jockey later this month.
Vegas No Show is an intriguing prospect here. He ran a bust race with the blinkers on for the first time on his last race at the Grade 2 Remsen last November 24 here in Aqueduct.
He had finished a game second to Violence at the Grade 2 Nashua three weeks before. Violence went on to also win the CashCall Futurity with a 92 Beyer figure in his next race.
Look out for this horse as he will be without the blinkers off for this race. He is trained by Kelly Breen, who saddled 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice and will be ridden by Paco Lopez.
Vyjack, trained by Rudy Rodriguez and ridden by Cornelio Velazquez, is the morning line favorite for the race.
He is unbeaten in two starts and has earned big Beyer figures from both efforts, including a field-high 96 on his last start; an easy win over a short field at the Traskwood Stakes over the slop here at Aqueduct on December 9.
Even though he has yet to beat a tough group, he has looked very strong on both of his races.
Mudflats comes off a much improved race when he broke his maiden here over a sloppy track on December 8. He was sold and is now part of the Doug O'Neill barn, the trainer for last year's Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another.
He earned a 90 Beyer figure for that effort on what marked his return after a two-month lay off.
Both Vyjack and Mudflats, are two very promising colts coming off career-best efforts. They earned the two best Beyer figures of any horse on the field on those two last races.
But the question on them lies on the fact that those efforts could have been due to liking the mud over the fast surface.
For both, this race will also mark the first time they will race around two turns.
Timothy Tullock's trainee Amerigo Vespucci ships north from Maryland. He has four starts, all at Laurel Park where he won his first two races and finished second the last two—both stakes.
He stretches out around two turns for the first time but looks like he should like the new distance. He needs to improve to win as he steps up in class.
Siete de Oros and James Jingle complete the field.
Aqueduct | 8th Race | Post Time: 3:48 p.m. ET
Jerome Stakes | Grade 2 | Purse: $200,000
Distance: One mile and 70 Yards
Siete de Oros ||
Blk-on ||Angel S. Arroyo ||Ramon Preciado ||20/1
Cornelio Velazquez ||Rudy R. Rodriguez ||2/1
|3 ||Long River ||
Irad Ortiz Jr ||
Kiaran P. McLaughlin ||5/2
|4 ||Amerigo Vespucci ||Erick D. Rodriguez ||Timothy Mullock Jr ||12/1
Notacatbutallama ||Ramon A. Dominguez ||Todd A. Pletcher ||10/1
|6 ||Mudflats ||Junior Alvarado ||Doug F. O'Neill ||3/1
|7 ||Vegas No Show ||
Blk-off ||Paco Lopez ||Kelly J. Breen ||6/1
|8||James Jingle||Eddie Castro||Patrick J. Kelly||30/1|
Morning Line odds by drf.com.