Ultimate Guide to Hitting the Jerome

It's rare that I make a full (every entry) fair odds analysis for a race outside a seven-figure Grade 1 race, but I felt compelled to do so for the Jerome Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct (click for FREE Ultimate PPs) because of the presence of a clear favorite/most likely winner who doesn't have to win.

In addition to the $200,000 purse, at stake in this stakes for three-year-olds is 17 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, including 10 to the winner, which was enough to get in last year (Giant Finish was 20th in the gate with 10 points, and Fear the Kitten was excluded with 6 points [Carving with 2 points was also excluded]).

There's plenty to like about Noble Moon, who has performed well both on the pace with his gate-to-wire winner on debut and then closed admirably after some trouble and six wide into the lane in the Nashua.

However, that 91 Speed Rating isn't tops in this group, as that distinction belongs to Classic Giacnroll, who earned a 94 Speed Rating when  third behind next-out winner Joint Custody in the Marylander on December 7 at Laurel Park.

I have Noble Moon at 1.6-to-1 (8-to-5), which is a bigger price than his 6-to-5 morning line. His breeding (Malibu Moon out of a Kingmambo mare) indicates two turns won't be a problem, and the rail at this 1-mile, 70-yard distance on the Aqueduct inner has a 20% strike rate with an impact value of 1.52.

The aforementioned Classic Giacnroll as my 5-to-1 second choice because of his speed rating power, but he's actually giving weight to Noble Moon, who absolutely will be in front of this one turning for home (unless something went wrong). Similar to Noble Moon, the Jerome is Classic Giacnroll's two-turn debut, but I like Noble Moon's pedigree better, though a mile 70 shouldn't be an issue for a Giacomo colt.

Master Lightning is my third choice at 6-to-1 and struggled with whether he was equal to Scotland or Classic Giacnroll and ended up just splitting the difference because of class concerns considering his performances in the Nashua (ten lengths behind Noble Moon) and fifth in the Remsen after an incredibly slow pace.

That said, he was quick out of the gate in maiden races this fall at Belmont going 1 and 1 1/16 miles, and his win last out was at this track (and nearly the distance). If Noble Moon runs his race, Master Lightning won't win, but if for whatever reason Noble Moon takes back and Master Light can run back to those Belmont pace ratings an upset isn't out of the question.

Scotland and Lawmaker was another close call, but sided slightly with Scotland at 7-to-1 with Lawmaker at 8-to-1 before a drop to Matuszak at 22-to-1 then Pin and Win and Mental Iceberg at 75-to-1 each.

Scotland is still a maiden, but I preferred him slightly off fast figures sprinting and now stretching out, but if the 7-to-2 morning line is to be believed, there won't be any value here.

Lawmaker is already well traveled, preparing for the races this fall at Belmont before shipping to Laurel for a maiden score then preparing for this in South Florida. He closed well over a next-out winner to win debut but do think the waters are deeper here.

From a "top pick" stand point, I'd make mine #7 Classic Giacnroll, as I think we'll get about the price we want. From a wagering standpoint, I'd be prepared to play Noble Moon to win/place if he's better than 8-to-5 and any of #s 3, 7, or 8 across the board if they drift higher than my fair line.

Based on morning line, I definitely see #2 Scotland as being overbet. If you beat him out of the exotics then even if Noble Moon runs as advertised you could still get paid. From a multi-race standpoint, I see more value in beating Noble Moon than singling him because if the morning line is right he'll be overbet, and I think you can lean on Flipcup and Alpaca Fina in the Busanda that kicks off the late Pick 4.

While we're talking three-year-olds, a reminder that updated Kentucky Derby odds at the Wynn Las Vegas are available at, including past performances of every listed horse. The next pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby future wager is February 6-8.

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