Weekend Lineup: Derby Preps In New Orleans, Hot Springs, New York?

As severe winter weather once again batters the eastern half of the United States, it is up in the air as to whether Aqueduct will have to reschedule the Jerome Stakes for a second time. Originally set for Jan. 1, the listed Jerome Stakes was re-drawn for Saturday, Jan. 13. The track had to cancel races on Thursday due to “unsuitable” track conditions, and a heavy fog forced Aqueduct to cease races after the second on Friday.

Downgraded to listed status for 2018, the $150,000 Jerome is led by Grade 1 winner Firenze Fire for trainer Jason Servis. Dale Romans has a two-time winner entered in the one-mile contest, Seven Trumpets for West Point Thoroughbreds, making his first start since late November at Churchill Downs. The Jerome offers the winner 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

The other two 10-point races toward the Run for the Roses this weekend are the G3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Saturday and the listed Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on the holiday Monday card. The Lecomte features a 14-horse field with entrants like Principe Guilherme and Instilled Regard, while the Smarty Jones on opening weekend at Oaklawn has entrants from trainers like Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, and Todd Pletcher.

Tap Daddy, a son of the late Scat Daddy and out of a daughter of Tapit, is the likely favorite in the Smarty Jones for Asmussen. The colt was a very close third in the G3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, which was taken off the turf that day, and came back to win an allowance race at Churchill Downs in mid-November.

Gulfstream Park’s Saturday card features the G3 Marshua’s River and the G2 Ft. Lauderdale stakes, led by Dream Dancing and Heart to Heart, respectively.

Santa Anita offers the G2 La Canada on Saturday, featuring Majestic Heat for Richard Mandella, while the Southern California’s Monday card features the G3 Megahertz Stakes.

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