Jerome First 3-Year-Old Test for Derby Hopefuls


Noble Moon, third in the Nashua in his last race, is looking for his second victory in three starts in the Jerome Stakes (Photos courtesy of Adam Coglinese/NYRA).

Historically run in the late summer or early fall since its inception in 1976, the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome Stakes now finds itself the first graded stakes test of the year for newly turned 3-year-olds.  The winner will garner 10 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points system initiated for last year's Derby. With eight sophomores running two turns around the inner dirt track at Aqueduct, this year's running appears to be quite a puzzle as none have won or placed in a stakes race and five of the eight have just their maiden win to improve upon. Noble Moon ran the best of the group in similar competition when third in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes in November so perhaps deserves top call. Similarly, Classic Giacnroll is one of just a pair that with two wins this year and as he enters the race off a third place effort in the Marylander Stakes is another that fits in stakes company. Master Lightning is the only horse in the field to have won on the inner track and that familiarity could afford him an edge, while Lawmaker won his one-and-only start and was then flattered when the runner-up came back to win. Scotland has finished second in both his races to date and could improve. Pin and Win (fourth in his most recent race and eighth before that), Matuszak (fifth and sixth in his two most recent efforts) and Mental Iceberg (eighth in his last start) round out the field.


Noble Moon led from virtually start to finish to win this past September in his career debut in a 12 horse field. Earning an 84 EquibaseSpeed Figure with that effort, he promptly improved markedly to a 94 figure when third in the Nashua Stakes in his next start. In the Nashua, Noble Moon got bumped at the start so instead of showing the early speed demonstrated in his previous start, he found himself last of 12 in the early stages. Rallying from that position and going six paths wide into the stretch, Noble Moon still managed to miss the runner-up spot by less than a length. With the ground saving rail today and a solid speed figure to improve upon, particularly with a better start, Noble Moon could earn his first stakes victory in the Jerome. 

Scotland might be winless in two career starts but has run well enough to post the mild upset in the Jerome if he continues his pattern of improving figures. Scotland rallied from eighth of 11 in his debut on October 30, missing the win by a head on the wire, then rallied once again in his next start on November 30 when second once again. That second effort earned a 90 figure and with a ground saving inside post and any similar improvement in his effort and figure Scotland would be no surprise to win the Jerome.

Classic Giacnroll won a pair of sprints in September, less than two weeks apart. Improving markedly from the first to the second of those races, he earned a rock solid 95. Although third in his most recent race, the Marylander Stakes, Classic Giacnroll improved again, to a field high 101 figure that if repeated appears good enough to win. Adding to that possibility is the fact that the horse that won the Marylander, Joint Custody, returned from that race to win the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes.  Given these achievements, Classic Giacnroll should be very competitive in this year's Jerome Stakes.

The rest of the field, with their best representative EquibaseSpeed Figures, is Lawmaker (91), Master Lightning (94), Matuszak (85), Mental Iceberg (86) and Pin and Win (75).

My Selections:

Noble Moon


Classic Giacnroll


$200,000 Jerome Stakes

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:48 p.m. E.T.

One Mile and 70 yards for 3-year-olds on the dirt







Noble Moon (VA)

Irad Ortiz Jr.


Leah Gyarmati


Scotland (KY)

David Cohen


Tony Dutrow


Lawmaker (KY)

Jose Ortiz


Chad Brown


Pin and Win (KY)

Abel Castellano Jr.


Joseph Lostritto


Matuszak (KY)

Rajiv Maragh


Bill Mott


Mental Iceberg (NY)

Angel Arroyo


Greg DiPrima


Classic Giacnroll (KY)

Alex Solis


Lisa Guerrero


Master Lightning (PA)

Cornelio Velasquez


Todd Pletcher

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