12/31/2015 11:46AM

Jerardi: Give Jerome Stakes an ‘A' for talent

Taylor Ejdys/Equi-Photo
Bird of Trey earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for this win in the Pennsylvania Nursery. He is one of four in the Jerome at Aqueduct on Saturday to have hit 90 or better on the Beyer scale.

As I was getting ready to check out Saturday’s Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, I was expecting a B- or C-level race. That is not what we have here. There are four horses who hit 90 on the Beyer Speed Figure scale late in their 2-year-old seasons, suggesting that this is a race that deserves more than casual attention.

Flexibility would be unbeaten in three starts if he did not have the misfortune of running into Mohaymen in his last two. Still, when you see a 2-year-old put up a 74, 86, 93 Beyer series over a seven-week period, that is potentially a very serious horse and definitely the most likely winner. I’m not sure if the colt can go forward again, but if he does, he becomes even more interesting.

Bird of Trey won the Pennsylvania Nursery like an absolute monster. His 90 Beyer was a 10-point improvement over his previous best, and the colt ran like more distance might be a good thing. It has been 12 years since Smarty Jones announced himself at Parx with a dominant win in the Pennsylvania Nursery. Does anyone find it slightly ironic that John Servis is back for what is essentially the same race that Smarty Jones won to begin his epic 3-year-old campaign with a very fast son of – wait for it – Birdstone? Birdstone, of course, ended Smarty Jones’s Triple Crown try by beating him in the Belmont Stakes.

You don’t see 2-year-olds getting 90 Beyers in maiden races and not winning. King Krantz did that, and he also put up three straight 85s without winning. He also was entered for the Lost in the Fog Stakes at Aqueduct on Friday. If he stays in the Jerome, he will have to beat a very strong field, including Condo King, the horse who just beat him by a neck in a Dec. 5 maiden race. Condo King is the fourth horse in this contest with a 90, which has to be some kind of record for an early-January 3-year-old stakes race at Aqueduct.

The Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park has a great history, but it has been a while since any of the top 2-year-olds pointed for the race. That trend continues Saturday, with no horse in the race having gone higher than an 84 Beyer.

Sheikh of Sheikhs was good enough to get that 84 when he won an undercard stakes on Breeders’ Cup Saturday at Keeneland. The colt’s speed should get him very good race position, and that 84 may very well be good enough to win again.

Noholdingback Bear was barely beaten by Sheikh of Sheikhs in that Keeneland race, proving that his big-figure debut at Woodbine was every bit as good as it looked.

Look out, south Florida. Ramon Preciado, who put on a yearlong show at Parx in 2015, has invaded with some very talented horses, including Lucy N Ethel in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday.

The 3-year-old filly won her maiden Nov. 16 at Parx with a good but not overwhelming 62. She came back 22 days later in a first-level allowance at Parx against a small but talented group and won like a potential star while getting an 89 Beyer and looking very much like she had more to give. If she gives more in this race, the other fillies are running for second.

I love races like the Midnight Lute Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, not because there is easy money (there is not) but because there are so many fast horses with such diverse styles.

If Distinctiv Passion is back to his best after getting involved in a crazy speed duel in October, he is your most likely winner. He has a series of triple-digit Beyers to come back to and looks very much like lone speed, the attribute that earned him those big figures in the first place.

Salutos Amigos did not have much luck at Santa Anita earlier in his career, but that may as well have been another lifetime. The horse reeled off a 105, 109, 108, 110 series from November 2014 through March at Aqueduct and never really ran a bad one all year while competing against the country’s best sprinters. If he gets a hot pace to run at, his consistency certainly suggests that his form will transfer from one coast to the other.