©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to the Empire State, Saturday, where Flexibility will go the starting gate as the even money, morning-line favorite in the 146th running of the $200,000 Jerome Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack. Post time for the race will be 3:50 p.m. ET.
Flexibility comes into this race with a 1-2-0 record in three starts for trainer Chad Brown. He won his maiden debut in October and followed that with a second-place finish to Mohaymen in both the Nashua Stakes (G2) and Remsen Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of the Remsen:
FLEXIBILITY prompted the pace from the two path, got set down the drive home, came up short after tussling with the top one from upper to mid-stretch, continued onward in a willing manner, after coming out a bit himself in the vicinity of the eighth pole, to garner the place.
Flexibility ran in second-place the entire race and was passed by Mohaymen in the stretch drive. His inability to take the lead was telling and he’ll have to improve on that going forward.
The cut back in distance could benefit Flexibility who’s a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd. And, his B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® also indicates that he should be competitive in this race.
Bluegrass Cat, the sire of Flexibility, was a competitive colt and multiple graded stakes winner on the 2005 and 2006 Kentucky Derby Trail.
As a two year old, Bluegrass Cat compiled a 3-0-0 record in four starts, winning the Nashua Stakes (G2) and Remsen Stakes (G2). As a three year old, Bluegrass Cat compiled a 2-4-0 record in seven starts, winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes and Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1). He finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3), Kentucky Derby (G1), Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1).
Jockey Irad Ortiz retains the mount and I look for them to run a good race.
Vorticity (4-1), comes into this race with a 2-0-1 record in three starts for trainer James Lawrence, including a win in the Marylander Stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
VORTICITY showed speed along the rail down the backstretch, failed to keep pace entering the turn, eased out to the two path leaving the turn, gained command outside TALE OF E DUBAI near the eighth pole and held sway under vigorous rousing.
Voticity has yet to run in a route race, but his breeding indicates that he should be able to handle this distance. He’s is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he has an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®.
Distorted Humor, the sire of Vorticity, made his first start in February of his three-year-old racing season and he did not run in the Kentucky Derby. Overall, he compiled an 8-5-3 record in 23 starts and his most notable stakes wins were in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2), Salvator Mile Handicap (G3), Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G3), Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) and the Ack Ack Handicap (G3).
As a stallion, Distorted Humor has sired numerous graded stakes winners, including the classic champions Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and Drosselmeyer, winner of the 2010 Belmont Stakes (G1). Distorted Humor also is the grandsire of I’ll Have Another, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1).
A sharp work out on December 27 could have Vorticity ready to run a good race and I look for him to be competitive.
A long shot I like in this race is Bird of Trey who’s been tabbed with 10-1 morning line odds. In five starts, he’s always finished in the money and he comes into this race with a 2-2-1 record for trainer John Servis.
In his second start, Bird of Trey broke his maiden, devasting his rivals with a runaway 11-length victory. In his last start, Bird of Trey scored another impressive victory to win the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes by 7¼ lengths. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
BIRD OF TREY prompted the early pace from the inside, was eased back slightly and moved to the outside, easily took the lead entering the stretch and drew off under mild handling.
Bird of Trey has not run in a route race, either, but his breeding indicates he should be competitive at this distance. He’s is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®.
Birdstone, the sire of Bird of Trey, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 5-0-0 record in nine starts. As a two year old, Birdstone won the 2003 Champagne Stakes (G1), defeating Chapel Royal by 2½ lengths.
As a three year old, Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes (G1), upsetting Smarty Jones in his bid to sweep the Triple Crown, and he won the Travers Stakes (G1).
At stud, Birdstone has sired numerous graded stakes winners and he’s the sire of the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, Mine That Bird, and Summer Bird, winner of the 2009 Belmont Stakes (G1).
If Bird of Trey moves forward in this race, he should be a tough competitor. A sharp work on December 19 could have him ready to run a career best race.
Another long shot I like is Donegal Moon (15-1) who comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with a 1-1-1 record in five starts. In his last race, he finished a disappointing fifth in the Remsen Stakes (G2). However, he led for much of that race until faltering at the top of the stretch.
So, the cut back in distance may benefit Donegal Moon and he could, perhaps, be competitive. But, he’ll have to improve his game considerably in order to secure the win.
The Jerome Stakes (G3) is the first qualifying race of the 2016 racing season. Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Jerome Stakes (G3) will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive one point. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2016 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Rank, Horse, Points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Nyquist, 30, Doug O’Neill, $1,580,000
2. Exaggerator, 16, Keith Desormeaux, $940,000
3. Brody’s Cause, 14, Dale Romans, $500,000
4. Mor Spirit, 14, Bob Baffert, $246,800
5. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130
6. Airoforce, 10, Mark Casse, $444,080
7. Greenpointcrusader, 10, Dominick Schettino, $300,000
8. Mohaymen, 10, Kiaran McLaughlin, $300,000
9. Cocked and Loaded, 10, Larry Rivelli, $280,840
10. Riker, 10, Nicholas Gonzalez, $182,375
11. Sunny Ridge, 8, Jason Servis, $355,600
12. Rated R Superstar, 6, Ken McPeek, $80,200
13. Toews On Ice, 4, Bob Baffert, $228,400
14. Flexibility, 4, Chad Brown, $100,000
15. Kasseopia (GB), 4, Charlie Fellowes, 22,809
16. Harlan Punch, 2, Tom Amoss, $138,000
17. Hollywood Don, 2, Peter Miller, $96,250
18. I’malreadythere, 2, Jerry Hollendorfer, $86,000
19. Mo Tom, 2, Tom Amoss, $68,326
20. Sail Ahoy, 1, Claude “Shug” McGaughey, $60,000