The major prep race for the Kentucky Derby this weekend is, in all honesty, the last one that really matters. It is the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, but it drew only a paltry field of six and of those, only Silver Medallion can earn enough money to make the field of twenty for the Derby. Therefore, I will be handicapping the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap at Aqueduct, which might also have an impact on the Triple Crown series this year. Here is the analysis:
The top pick will be #5 Rattlesnake Bridge, who ran a decent second behind former Derby favorite, Uncle Mo, in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream. His Sire is Tapit, who has been producing quality runners by the bushel lately. The trainer is Kiaran McLaughlin, who has other stronger three-year-olds in his stable. Jose Lezcano was aboard for the Timely Writer and gets the call again here. WinStar Farm's #2 Cal Nation is the second choice here. John Velazquez has a win and second with this colt in two lifetime pairings. He has been the betting choice in both previous races and will likely have that honor again here. His last work over the Belmont Training Track was four furlongs in 48 3/5 seconds. A.P. Indy is on the bottom side of the breeding. Jess Jackson passed away this week and his Stonestreet Stables horse, #1 Astrology, is my third choice. Jackson recently pulled this horse off the Derby Trail after his disappointing return to the races with a distant second in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby, behind Twice The Appeal. A.P. Indy is the Sire here. Mike Smith will be at the controls for the first time in this spot. Finally, I will use a nifty longshot, I think, in #4 Isn't He Perfect. He ran fifth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial just a couple of weeks ago, but was in contention with a furlong to go. I like the price of 20-1 on the morning line. His Sire is 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Pleasantly Perfect. Here is the play for the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes:
$10 WIN #5
$1 EX BOX 1-2-4-5-6
Right now, the blog is MINUS $260, so we better get a winner before the Derby to keep our head near the water. They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!