Thursday, January 1, 2015

El Kabeir to face eight sophomores in G2 Jerome

Thursday, January 1, 2014


Contact: Jenny Kellner

(718) 659-2351


El Kabeir to face eight sophomores in G2 Jerome


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's a long way from the first Saturday in January at Aqueduct Racetrack to the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, but the connections of nine newly minted 3-year-olds are hoping the Grade 3, $200,000 Jerome could be the first step on a journey that will take them to the Kentucky Derby.


Favored at 2-1 on the morning line in the 145th edition of the one mile, 70-yard Jerome is El Kabeir, who already has collected 11 points towards a potential berth in the Run for the Roses. He could earn 10 more with a victory in Jerome, which is the first of four races for sophomores at Aqueduct on the New York Racing Association calendar: the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 7, the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham on March 7 and the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 4.


El Kabeir, a Florida-bred son of Scat Daddy who carries the colors of Zayat Stables, broke his maiden in his second start, romping to a 10 ¾-length victory at Saratoga Race Course. Jumping into Grade 1 company, he finished fourth in the Champagne at Belmont Park, and next was second to Blofeld in the Grade 2 Nashua over the Big A's main track. He then traveled to Kentucky, where he posted a hard-fought head victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 29 at Churchill Downs under Calvin Borel, who will ride him back Saturday.


"We're very happy with the way he and Calvin connected in Kentucky," said trainer John Terranova of El Kabeir, who drew post position 9. "The horse came out of the race great, and he's heading into the Jerome ideally [having worked a half mile in 48.55 on Sunday]. He's gotten much stronger moving from the Champagne to the Nashua to now, and he's a lot more focused as well. We've gotten over the two-turn question; now, we have to see how he progresses, how he stretches out his speed, and his ability to rate."


Looking to bounce back after a subpar effort in the Grade 2 Remsen is the Todd Pletcher-trained Ostrolenka, who finished last of 13 after having scored a facile victory in the Sleepy Hollow for New York-breds in his previous start. The Eric Fein homebred son of Musket Man also owns a maiden victory over state-breds at Belmont Park, earned in his second start.


"The first thing we're looking for is for him to rebound from the disappointing performance in the Remsen," said Pletcher, who will also saddle Royal Burgh, 8-1, in the Jerome. "My feeling is that he was compromised by a bad post [No. 11] and the fact there was a lot of residual moisture in the track, even though it was labeled fast. Johnny [Velazquez] felt he didn't like the track surface at all, just as he didn't like the sloppy track in his first start, so we're hoping for a fast track and a better performance.


"He's a colt with some potential and as he continues to develop and improve, should he run well, we'll come up with a game plan for him," he added.


Having drawn post position 4, Ostrolenka was listed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line with Jose Ortiz aboard.


Tabbed as the 4-1 program choice is Ackeret, representing the team of trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owner David Wilkenfeld, who won the 2013 Jerome with Vyjack. A Florida-bred son of Mach Ride, Ackeret has won two of his three races, finishing fifth to Cinco Charlie in his only stakes start, the James F. Lewis at Laurel Park on November 15.


Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride from post position 7.


Likely to attract support as well is the John Servis-trained Nasa, a son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, who kicked off his 3-year-old campaign at the Big A in January, 2004, by winning the Withers. No worse than third in four starts, the Pennsylvania-bred enters the Jerome off a front-running score in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, a race his father won by 15 lengths.


Kendrick Carmouche will ride Nasa, 8-1 on the morning line, from post position 8.


Rounding out the field, from the rail out, are Mini Cosmo, a recent allowance winner at Parx Racing for H. Graham Motion; the maiden Tencendur; Now We Are Free, an allowance/optional claiming winner last time out at Laurel Park, and General Bellamy, who broke his maiden on November 29 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.


The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome:

PP        Horse                                    Jockey            WGT    Trainer                       M/L

1          Mini Cosmo (KY)                     A S. Arroyo     117      H Graham Motion        8/1

2          Royal Burgh (KY)                    M Franco        115      T A. Pletcher                8/1

3          Tencendur (NY)                      J Rose            115      G Weaver                    30/1

4          Ostrolenka (NY)                      J L. Ortiz         119      T A. Pletcher                7/2

5          Now We Are Free (KY)           F Jara             117       M Nevin                       20/1

6          General Bellamy (FL)             J Alvarado       115       W I. Mott                      12/1

7          Ackeret (FL)                            I Ortiz, Jr.        117       R R. Rodriguez           4/1

8          Nasa (PA)                               K Carmouche 119       J C. Servis                   8/1

9          El Kabeir (FL)                          C H. Borel       122      J P. Terranova, II          2/1



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