The Jerome Stakes is the second oldest stakes race in the United States and has been part of the Thoroughbred horse racing scene in New York since it was inaugurated in 1866.
The race has changed location, distance, and time of year multiple times over its long history and is currently run at a flat mile on the dirt at Aqueduct every January. The listed stakes race is for three-year-olds with a purse of $150,000. The race is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby and is the first prep race of the season, with Kentucky Derby 10 points to the winner.
Jerome Stakes Results
The 2020 Jerome Stakes went to Independence Hall, a well-bred son of Constitution out of Kalahari Cat. The dark bay colt paid just $2.20 as the 1-9 favorite for trainer Michael Trombetta. Jose Ortiz was up for the victory. Independence Hall’s chase for the 2020 Kentucky Derby ended there, however, as he finished second in the Sam F. Davis (G3) next out, and could do no better than fifth in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park in March.
2019 winner Mind Control fared better, however; after taking the Jerome, the son of Stay Thirsty added the Bay Shore Stakes (G3), H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1), Toboggan Stakes (G3), and the Tom Fool Handicap (G3). He has earned over $1 million.
Also, a millionaire is the 2018 winner Firenze Fire. The son of Poseidon’s Warrior has earned over $1.9 million with 11 wins in 26 starts. He won the Jerome by a half-length as the favorite over Seven Trumpets.
The Jerome Stakes was won in 2016 by Flexibility, a son of Bluegrass Cat trained by Chad Brown and ridden to victory by Irad Ortiz, Jr. He completed the race in 1:42.98 and went winless for the rest of the season.
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Jerome Stakes Racing Tips
The Jerome Stakes has a rich history that has included some of the best horses, jockeys, and trainers in the history of the sport.
Jockey Eddie Arcaro holds the record of most wins by a rider with six – he won his first edition of the Jerome Stakes in 1946 aboard Mahout and continued with Hill Prince (1950), Traffic Judge (1955), Bold Ruler (1957), Warhead (1958) and Kelso (1960).
Harry Payne Whitney and Joseph Widener each have trained four winners, the most of any conditioner.
In recent years, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. won the 2014 and 2016 editions of the race, while his brother Jose Ortiz won it in 2020. Jockey Mike Luzzi won it in 2012 and 2007.
Jerome Stakes Contenders
Some of the most legendary horses in the sport of Thoroughbred racing have added the Jerome Stakes to their resumes including Bold Ruler, Kelso, Carry Back, and Fusaichi Pegasus.
In 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus delivered on the hype surrounding the $4 million colt in the Kentucky Derby, winning easily and proving himself a superstar. After losing the Preakness Stakes, he was given four months off and returned to action triumphantly in the Jerome Stakes, then run at Belmont Park under handicap conditions. He defeated six rivals carrying high weight of 124 pounds by ¾ of a length in what would be the penultimate race of his career. He went on to be syndicated for $65 million and stood at stud for two decades.
Vyjack, who won the race in 2013, is one of the most interesting horses to win the Jerome in recent years. At the time, the bay gelding was trained by Rudy Rodriguez and despite winning his first two starts impressively, he had a reputation as being difficult to handle. He went off as the favorite in the Jerome Stakes and passed the class test in his graded stakes debut, winning by a game head after dueling in the stretch.
He went on to win the Gotham Stakes and ultimately finished eighteenth in the Kentucky Derby. After languishing away in mediocrity against graded stakes competition on dirt with the occasional victory, he found a new lease on life on the turf on in California, earning $1.4 million. In addition, he is a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Mile champion Tepin.
Jerome Stakes History
The Jerome Stakes has been run anywhere from its current distance of one mile to 2 miles in the 1870s. It used to be run in heats and was originally the signature race at Jerome Park before it moved to Morris Park, then Belmont Park, and finally Aqueduct Racetrack. It has bounced between Belmont and Aqueduct but has settled at the latter since 2011.
It has been won by top sprinters such as Richter Scale and Housebuster, and premier routers such as Belmont winner Crème Fraiche and inaugural Kentucky Derby winner Aristides in 1875. Puerto Rican star Tinajero won it in 1971, and Citation’s main rival and stablemate Coaltown won it in 1948.
The 2021 Jerome Stakes will be held the first Saturday in January at Aqueduct.