Road to the Kentucky Derby: Jerome Stakes and Shams Stakes
The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on both coasts this weekend with the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday, Jan. 7, and the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita the following day.
Both are one-mile horse races, but over different track configurations. The Jerome is run around one turn, the Sham over two turns. Both award the same number of Kentucky Derby points: 10 for first, four for second and 3-2-1 for third through fifth place.
The 20 horses with the most qualifying points earn automatic eligibility into the Churchill Downs starting gate for Kentucky Derby 149 on May 6.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023
Distance: 1 mile
Jerome Stakes Analysis and Selections
Though none in the field have won a non-restricted stakes race, the Jerome is a competitive eight-horse field with several potential win candidates.
Half the field is comprised of talented New York-bred horses, three of which have won a state-bred stakes. Morning-line favorite Arctic Arrogance is the most accomplished in the field, with a dominating win in the NY-bred Sleepy Hollow Stakes and a second in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 3.
General Banker was winless in his first seven starts before springing a 10-1 upset in the $500,000 NY Stallion Series Stakes last time out, making him the leading money winner in the field.
Jerome Stakes Selections
1. In three career starts in Kentucky, Lugan Knight has a win, second and third and exits a key race. He was a close third in an allowance event at Churchill Downs won by Victory Formation, who came back last weekend to dominate the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Lugan Knight overcame a wide trip in that six-furlong race. This is his first try at a mile, and the one turn may help him get the distance.
2. Neural Network was a visually impressive five-length winner in his lone career start against NY-breds in November. The third-place finisher came back to win next time out. Though the seven-furlong race was over a muddy track, he drew clear with ease and anything sent out by high-percentage trainer Chad Brown must be respected.
3. Arctic Arrogance is the 8-5 morning-line favorite and deservedly so. Never worse than second in four career starts, his runner-up Remsen finish was solid — it was 11 lengths back to the third-place finisher. His early speed allowed him to set the pace on a sloppy track that day and avoid the muddy kickback. Will be a pace presence again.
Jerome Betting Strategy
Win wager on Lugan Knight. Lugan Knight and Neural Network in exacta box and on top of exactas with Arctic Arrogance and Valenzan Day.
Date: Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023
Distance: 1 mile
* Odds provided by Gambling.com.
Sham Stakes Analysis and Selections
The race named after the 1973 Santa Anita Derby winner and rival to Secretariat is an early California prep and in 2020 was won by Authentic, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Authentic was trained by Bob Baffert, who has won this race each of the last three years and eight times overall.
Baffert has the quantity and quality to make it nine. He trains four of the six horses in the field, with the quartet breaking from the 1 through 4 posts. None of the four can be easily dismissed, especially National Treasure, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Speed Boat Beach, who has three wins in four starts.
The two non-Baffert entries, Packs a Wahlop and Spun Intended, have the speed figures to contend in a race that through the years has generally favored horses on or near the early lead.
Sham Stakes Selections
1. With four competitive entries in this race, it seems ill-advised to go against eight-time race winning trainer Baffert. But Spun Intended is worth taking a shot on. Spun Intended crushed a maiden field by 6 1/2 lengths last time out while being eased up late. He retains jockey Mike Smith (who was also riding Packs a Wahlop), should stake out a stalking position and can win this race with modest improvement.
2. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third-place finisher National Treasure has taken on Grade I competition in his previous two races, finishing second and third. On speed figures and class, he’s the horse to beat and the likely betting favorite. Hasn’t shown much punch down the stretch, but that was against tougher foes.
3. Speed Boat Beach has flashed plenty of early speed on dirt and turf and is the likely pacesetter. Set Del Mar track record in his lone dirt start, then switched to grass for next three. Seems like a sprinter, but has won at a mile on the turf.
Sham Betting Strategy
In short field, will limit wagering to win and place bets on Spun Intended. If playing exacta, would key Spun Intended over all others.
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