Will Firenze Fire Rebound in the Jerome Stakes?
Happy New Year! Aqueduct racetrack in New York isn’t wasting any time getting underway with their winter prep races for the 2018 Kentucky Derby—their series will kick off on January 1st with the $150,000 Jerome Stakes going a mile.The horse to beat is undoubtedly #5 Firenze Fire, who is by far the most accomplished horse in the field with wins in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and the Sanford Stakes (gr. III) under his belt. His Champagne victory was particularly noteworthy, not just because the race was a one-turn mile similar to the Jerome, but also because he defeated a top-notch field that included Good Magic and Enticed, future winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), respectively.
Although Firenze Fire didn’t run well when seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, that was his debut around two turns and he came down with a temperature a few days before the race, so I think this performance can be forgiven. If he runs back to his Champagne effort, he should win this race.
The Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will send out #1 Honor Up, a son of To Honor and Serve that has already run twice over this track and distance, finishing second in a quality maiden race for New York-breds on November 15th before winning a similar event by 11 ¾ lengths on December 9th. His final times weren’t very fast, but Aqueduct has been playing very slowly this winter and his speed figures have come back reasonably strong. In any case, his proven ability over the tricky track at Aqueduct is a big plus in his favor.
#4 Old Time Revival is another interesting contender. The speedy son of Brethren was beaten in his first two starts at Laurel Park during the summer, but recently returned from a layoff to win a seven-furlong maiden race at Laurel by 4 ¾ lengths, earning a solid 90 BRIS speed figure. The stretch-out to a one-turn mile shouldn’t be an issue, and in the event that Firenze Fire runs below his best, I don’t think it’s impossible for Old Time Revival to upset this race at a nice price.
#7 Seven Trumpets hails from the barn of Dale Romans and has won his last two starts sprinting 6 ½ furlongs at Churchill Downs with sharp BRIS speed figures (93 and 92), though his pedigree hints that the one-mile distance of the Jerome could be a little far for him.
My plan is to play Firenze Fire in first and second place in a pair of trifectas with Honor Up, Old Time Revival, and Seven Trumpets while adding a smaller exacta with Firenze Fire excluded from the mix.
$2.50 trifecta: 5 with 1,4 with 1,4,7 ($10) $2.50 trifecta: 1,4 with 5 with 1,4,7 ($10) $2.00 exacta: 1,4 with 1,4,7 ($6)