The first Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race of 2021 takes place on New Year's Day at Aqueduct. The historic $150,000 Jerome S. is a 1-mile test offering qualification points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

Capo Kane
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(85) when breaking his maiden at Parx Racing.
Total Earnings:
$32,000
Owner:
Bing Cherry Racing and Leonard Liberto
Breeder:
Rising Star Farm
Trainer:
Harold Wyner
Jockey:
Dylan Davis
Sire:
Street Sense
Dam:
Twirl Me
Color:
Bay

A son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense, Capo Kane has shown promise in two starts against easier competition at Parx Racing. After finishing second in his debut sprinting 7 furlongs, he stretched out and wired a 1-mile and 70-yard maiden race by 4 1/2 lengths. With his tactical speed and improving form, Capo Kane has a chance to outrun expectations in the Jerome, though he'll need improvement from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

Swill
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs.
Total Earnings:
$69,304
Owner:
Kueber Racing and Ten Strike Racing
Breeder:
McCauley Farms and Nathan McCauley
Trainer:
Brad Cox
Jockey:
Kendrick Carmouche
Sire:
Munnings
Dam:
Walking Miracle
Color:
Bay

Conditioned by high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, Swill is exiting the toughest race of any horse in the Jerome field. After leading all the way to break his maiden, Swill stepped up in class for the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), where he ran evenly to finish fourth. He'll face an easier field in the Jerome may appreciate the slight cutback in distance to a one-turn mile. Cox strikes at a lofty 37% rate with horses running a mile or farther for the second time, and jockey Kendrick Carmouche is a 22% winner at Aqueduct. Swill is an obvious contender to visit the winner's circle.

Hold the Salsa
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(87) when winning the New York Stallion Series S.
Total Earnings:
$237,775
Owner:
Richard J. Lugovich
Breeder:
Richard Lugovich
Trainer:
Richard J. Lugovich
Jockey:
Romero Maragh
Sire:
Hold Me Back
Dam:
Northern Mambo
Color:
Bay

The most experienced runner in the field with six starts under his belt, Hold the Salsa has already competed in five stakes events, winning two. A rallying triumph in the 7-furlong New York Stallion Series S. brings Hold the Salsa to the Jerome in hot form, but he's been defeated by rival Eagle Orb in two of their three meetings and may need better to challenge for victory in the Jerome.

Eagle Orb
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
2
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(91) when winning the Notebook S.
Total Earnings:
$153,100
Owner:
E.V. Racing Stable
Breeder:
Barry R. Ostrager
Trainer:
Rudy Rodriguez
Jockey:
Manny Franco
Sire:
Orb
Dam:
Lady On Holiday
Color:
Bay

Sired by 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Orb, Eagle Orb has already cracked the exacta in a trio of stakes events, most recently posting a decisive 2 3/4-length victory in the 6-furlong Notebook S. at Aqueduct. This effort produced a 91 Brisnet Speed rating that tops the Jerome field, but Eagle Orb was arguably even more impressive in the Sleepy Hollow S. two starts back. Racing a mile at Belmont Park, Eagle Orb carved out a steady pace before settling for second behind Brooklyn Strong, who came right back to win the Remsen (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. This impressive form line suggests Eagle Orb is the horse to beat in the Jerome.

Original
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when breaking his maiden over the turf at Aqueduct.
Total Earnings:
$44,630
Owner:
Eric Fein
Breeder:
Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds
Trainer:
John Terranova
Jockey:
Jose Lezcano
Sire:
Quality Road
Dam:
Unforgettable
Color:
Bay

Sold for $425,000 as a 2-year-old, Original is a beautifully-bred son of Quality Road out of an Empire Maker mare, giving him a pedigree for success on dirt. Yet Original finished last by 22 lengths in his debut over the main track at Belmont Park before wiring a 1 1/16-mile maiden race over the Aqueduct turf. Handicappers must ponder whether Original's poor showing on debut was a fluke, or if he is showing a clear preference for turf over dirt. On the bright side, jockey Jose Lezcano (a 22% winner at Aqueduct) takes the mount for hot trainer John Terranova, so Original definitely warrants respect from a connections standpoint.