Kentucky Derby Qualifying Race: Jerome Stakes 2019
What the Jerome lacks in field size, it makes up for in competitiveness, as six challengers look very evenly-matched in the one-mile tilt over the outer dirt course. Grade 1 winner Mind Control (8/5) and Souper Jackpot (2/1) will rightly take their share of the wagering action as suggested by these morning line odds, but the other four contenders are certainly not without a shot as one of them tries to emerge a serous Kentucky Derby 2019 contender.
Here are the 5 most important factors to the Jerome as I see them:
The one-turn mile at Aqueduct looks ideal for every horse in this race
Souper Jackpot brings fast figures and good form into this event
Mind Control will have to bounce back after a poor showing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Direct Order (4/1) looks ready to step forward with a big effort
There isn’t a single horse you can readily toss out of consideration in this event
Capping the field
I’m a big proponent of the horse for course angle, so it’s more than worth noting that only two horses in this field have ever set hoof on the Aqueduct dirt. Direct Order and Family Biz (6/1) have each notched victories in their only starts at the Big A. Here’s a look at the field by odds and post position:
- Direct Order 4/1
- Family Biz 6//1
- Mind Control 8/5
- Our Braintrust 9/2
- Gates of Dawn 8/1
- Souper Jackpot 2/1
- Mind Control won the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last summer going seven furlongs, but then never got on track on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finishing seventh after a poor start. This speedy colt should be glued to the early pace in this event and will prove difficult if able to get back on track.
- I like the work Souper Jackpot has done so far, notching an impressive maiden win at Churchill Downs Nov. 7 before finishing a game second in the Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream a month later. The Mark Casse trainee is plenty fit and should be firing on all cylinders.
- Gates of Dawn and Brain Trust both ship in from Laurel Park, and while they appear just a touch slower than the main contenders here, it’s certainly not by much. Either could improve enough to win here.
Making the pick
So who gets my cash in this relatively wide-open race? Like most races, this one will be dictated by pace. I see Souper Jackpot, Gates of Dawn and Mind Control all intent on gaining the early lead which could result in some pretty contentious fractions. I like how that sets up for Direct Order, who is coming into this race with back-to-back wins. His affinity for the local track coupled with his stalk-and-pounce running style should play well here at a decent price.
Further, hunch bettors can fall back on Direct Order’s breeding. His sire is none other than former Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day.
Making the bet
Picking is one thing, and betting is often another matter all together. In this case, I’ll be content to take between 7/2 and 4/1 on Direct Order, but I’ll hold out hope for even better odds.
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