OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Kentucky Derby trail will officially get underway in New York on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack when a field of nine 3-year-olds will line up for the Grade 3, $200,000 Jerome at a mile and 70 yards on the inner track.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby point system, the Jerome winner will receive 10 points toward a berth in the Derby, with four points going to second, two to third and one to fourth.
The Chad Brown-trained Flexibility heads the diverse field, and is coming off a strong second-place finish to Mohaymen in the Grade 2 Remsen on November 28 at the Big A. The son of Bluegrass Cat also finished second to Mohaymen two starts ago in the Grade 2 Nashua on November 4 at Aqueduct, missing by 1 ¾ lengths in the one-mile dirt event.
In the Remsen, Flexibility tracked the early pace under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who will be aboard again on Saturday, and stayed on well in the stretch to finish 1 ½ lengths behind Mohaymen.
Owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Flexibility will break from post 4 as the even-money morning-line favorite.
Trained by John Servis, Bird of Trey will hope to follow a similar trajectory to a former Servis standout coming off a smashing victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery on December 5 at Parx Racing. In 2003, Servis sent out Smarty Jones to victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before faltering in the Belmont in his popular Triple Crown bid.
Bird of Trey, a son of Birdstone, won the seven-furlong Nursery by 7 ¼ lengths in his fifth career start. The bay colt, listed at 10-1 on the morning line, will race around two turns for the first time in his career with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons from post 6.
Making his fourth career start for trainer James Lawrence and owner Matthew Schera, Vorticity will step up against graded stakes company for the first time. The son of Distorted Humor won the seven-furlong Marylander Stakes last out on December 5 at Laurel Park by three-quarters of a length. Previously, the dark bay colt won a seven-furlong maiden race at the Big A by 2 ¾ lengths. He will break from post 5 with Jose Ortiz aboard and sits 4-1 second choice on the morning line.
Another stretch-out sprinter, Condo King, will go out for trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owners Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables. The Tiz Wonderful colt upset the heavily favored King Kranz, who is entered in the Jerome but is likely to run on Friday in the Lost in the Fog, to break his maiden last out going 6 ½ furlongs at Aqueduct. He will be ridden by Ruben Silvera from post 7.
The pacesetter from the Remsen, Donegal Moon, will look to improve on his finish after fading to finish fifth, beaten 8 ½ lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile race. The son of Malibu Moon is trained by Todd Pletcher for Donegal Racing, and will enlist the services of Manny Franco from post 3.
Rounding out the field are Silent Assassin, who will make his first start on dirt for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito; In Equality, a recent maiden graduate on the Big A inner track; and Let Me Go First, who broke his maiden last out at Parx.
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