Earning 10 qualifying points for Kentucky Derby (G1) eligibility couldn't have looked easier for El Areeb, who ran away from six rivals and won Monday's $150,000 Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct by 11 1/4 lengths under jockey Trevor McCarthy.
The Jerome was the first Kentucky Derby prep of the year for the newly-turned three-year-olds, and El Areeb struck first. Tracking in second behind even-money favorite Takaful for more than a half-mile, El Areeb seized control from that rival around the far turn and proceeded to waltz home in a time of 1:46.17 for one mile and 70 yards over a muddy track.
The 5-2 second choice off two dominating wins at Laurel against maiden company and in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III (where he earned a 102 Brisnet Speed rating), El Areeb paid $7.60 for owner M M G Stables and trainer Cathal Lynch.
Longshots Bonus Points and True Timber rounded out the placings, earning 4 and 2 Derby points, respectively. Takaful wilted in the final three furlongs and came home last, more than 39 lengths behind the winner.
A gray son of Exchange Rate, El Areeb has now won $184,200 from a line of 5-3-1-0.
"I'll speak to the owners and we'll get together and we'll discuss where we want to go next," Lynch said. "We'll just see how he comes out of it first."
(Adam Coglianese Photography)