10/11/2009 11:00PM

Cup on the table after Girolamo takes Jerome


Girolamo passed his first significant test and gave his connections something to think about after winning Sunday's for 3-year-olds by 1 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park.

Girolamo overcame a staggered start to stalk the pace while racing wide down the backstretch under Alan Garcia. He confronted the multiple graded stakes winner Kensei turning for home, put him away at the sixteenth pole, then held the late-running Burley's Gold at bay for the victory. Burley's Gold finished second by 2 3/4 lengths over Kensei. Denver and Pitched Perfectly completed the order of finish.

Girolamo, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum's Godolphin Stable, won for the third time in as many starts this year and fourth from six lifetime races. His time of 1:33.81 Sunday equals the third fastest time in 95 runnings of the Jerome at a mile (the race had its 140th running Sunday). Only Noble Nashua (1:33.20 in 1981) and French Deputy (1:33.53 in 1995) ran faster. In 1987, before times were recorded in hundredths, Afleet was credited with a final time of 1:33.80. Girolamo returned $3.60 as the odds-on choice.

"We've always thought this horse was a good horse," said Rick Mettee, Godolphin's New York-based assistant. "It is good" to beat a horse like Kensei, Mettee added.

Godolphin now has the choice of pointing Girolamo to the Breeders' Cup Classic or the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile - both run at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 - or await the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 28. Both of the Breeders' Cup races are run around two turns over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride synthetic surface. Girolamo has yet to race two turns or on a synthetic track.

"The Breeders' Cup being run out there this year makes it tough," Mettee said.

Mettee said a decision on Girolamo's next start would come after he consults with trainer Saeed bin Suroor and/or racing manager Simon Crisford.