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Irad Ortiz Jr. and Flexibility return after the 2016 Jerome Stakes
The first graded stakes of the year in New York is the $200,000 Jerome Stakes (G3), a very early Triple Crown prep at Aqueduct for 3-year-olds going 1 mile 70 yards over the inner dirt track. Conditions were typical for Long Island in January, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40's. Flexibility was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the field of 8 off his second place finishes in both the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Bird of Trey, winner of the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Parx, and 7-1 third choice Vorticity, winner of the Marylander Stakes at Laurel.
Down the stretch in the Jerome Stakes
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Flexibility Ortiz Jr. 3.10 2.50 2.10 5 Vorticity Ortiz 5.30 3.80 2 In Equality Alverado 3.70 Winning Time: 1:42.98 $2 Exacta 4-5 14.40 $2 Trifecta 4-5-2 83.50 $2 Superfecta 4-5-2-6 194.00
Left: Flexibility in the winner's circle. Cherie DeVaux, assistant to winning trainer Chad Brown said, "It's very exciting to have him continue to perform well going in these races. Hopefully each one he can continue to step up. He's been professional throughout. He just steps it up each time."
Right: Flexibility heads back to the barn. DeVaux added, "It was a very professional effort, sitting behind the speed today and moving on cue. The race set up well for him. He's always been a big, strong colt who did everything correct. Chad (Brown) and the owners will talk about what's next for him. After following Moyhamen (in the Remsen and Nashua) it was a good feeling to see him get his head in front of the other horses."
Left: Flexibility in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "First, I want to say to the owners I'm thankful for the opportunity to ride this horse. He broke very sharp today, I had to take a hold of him to get him back. I was told they wanted him to rate and save ground. When I asked, he took off and I just wanted him to be able to switch leads in the stretch and finish in the stretch. He did it easy."
Right: Flexibility heads out for the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher Vorticity returns after the race. The 7-1 third choice set the pace under Jose Ortiz, then lost the lead into the stretch to hold second place. The James Lawrence trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $140,400 for owner Matthew Schera.
Right: Third place finisher In Equality heads out for the post parade. The 22-1 shot raced fifth early 9 lengths back under jockey Junior Alvarado then rallied to get third beaten 6 3/4 lengths. The Leah Gyarmati trainee improved his record to 1 win, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $61,250 for owner Treadway Racing Stable.
Donegal Moon did a face plant at the start of the Jerome, dumping jockey Manuel Franco in the process. Both horse and rider were uninjured. The Todd Pletcher trainee has a record of 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 6 starts, earning $62,930 for owner Donegal Racing.