Editor’s Note – We’ll have previews today of the Jerome and Lecomte and Monday of the Smarty Jones. Next week, we’ll review the first five races on this year’s Derby Trail.
Aqueduct intended to run the Jerome on New Year’s Day but then Mother Nature intervened. They’ll finally run the race today, a race that kicks off Aqueduct’s series of Derby preps. The Withers, Gotham, and Wood Memorial will follow over the next three months.
Let’s take a look at the field, which is headed by Sanford and Champagne winner Firenze Fire.
#1 Coltandmississippi (6-1) – He scratched out of the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream last week in part for drawing the rail, and then drew the rail again here. However, because he’s been down in Florida, he has had uninterrupted training, which can’t be said of the others in here. Still, he’s never run a race good enough and being trained by Todd Pletcher, he’ll likely be overbet.
#2 Seven Trumpets (3-1) – Dale Romans sends this one up from Florida after back to back wins at Churchill. He had good trips in both and now stretches out to a mile for the first time. He beat NY-bred Battle Station last time out and we are going to try to keep him out of the exacta in this one.
#3 Regalian (20-1) – He’s taking a huge step up after a maiden-claiming victory and would be a huge upset.
#4 Factor This (12-1) – He broke his maiden last time out in what was his seventh start, but just his second dirt start. His dirt debut was his career debut back in July where he was green and spent some of the race off the gold rail. Last time, he had a nice stalking trip outside but ran fine. It does feel that he’s improved since going longer, both on turf and dirt.
#5 Smooth B (30-1) – He does have a sloppy track win and chased a solid pace last time, but he’s tough to make in this field.
#6 Old Time Revival (10-1) – His first two starts were not good, but then he jumped up to a nice win when stretching to seven furlongs at Laurel last month. The 75 Beyer he ran isn’t bad and based on the figures earned by the also-rans in that race, it does seem feasible that it was a legit number. That said, can he run back to it in New York?
#7 Firenze Fire (3-5) – He won the Sanford and the Champagne last year and was reportedly sick before both the Hopeful and the Breeders Cup Juvenile. His Champagne, however, was earned by benefiting from a very fast pace which fell apart. I’m not convinced at all he’s a serious Derby contender but he should tower over this field.
#8 Glenwood (50-1) – He is 50-1 on the line and that might be an underlay.
Overall Thoughts – I think it would be perfectly reasonable to take a shot against Firenze Fire in here but to be honest I don’t see an alternative that I really want to try. Seven Trumpets and Coltandmississippi don’t seem to be that good and they’re the second and third choices. Mostly, we’ll just be watching, but we’ll play a small cold-punch exacta of Firenze Fire over Factor This.