OZONE PARK, N.Y. – A two-time graded stakes runner-up last year to the talented Mohaymen, Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Flexibility proved to be an easy victor in his rival’s absence, picking up his first graded stakes win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Jerome on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Ridden by NYRA leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Flexibility settled comfortably in fourth position behind a three-way battle between Vorticity, Bird of Trey and Condo King. While the pacesetters cleared the opening quarter-mile in 23.48 seconds and the half in 47.31, the New York-bred son of Bluegrass Cat steadily closed the gap on the leaders.
Flexibility, favored at 3-2, caught Vorticity in the far turn as Bird of Trey and Condo King dropped out of contention after covering three-quarters in 1:12.97. Sweeping past the leader, Flexibility took control at the top of the lane and never looked back, romping to a 4 ¼-length victory.
“He broke very sharp,” said Ortiz. “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.”
Vorticity held on for second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of In Equality third. Bird of Trey, Let Me Go First, Condo King, and Silent Assassin completed the order of finish. Donegal Moon lost jockey Manny Franco at the start of the race. Neither horse nor jockey appeared injured in the incident.
Trained by Chad Brown, the winner completed the one mile and 70 yards contest in 1:42.98 and returned $3.10 for a $2 win bet.
Flexibility graduated to stakes company following a 1 ¾-length win in his October unveiling against state-breds at Belmont Park, first playing runner-up to the highly regarded Mohaymen in the Grade 2 Nashua on November 4 and again less than four weeks later in the Grade 2 Remsen.
“He’s been professional throughout,” said Cherie DeVaux, Brown’s New York-based assistant. “He just steps it up each time. 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 and the owners will talk about what’s next for him. After following Mohaymen it was a good feeling to see him get his head in front of the other horses.”
The Jerome, worth $120,000 to the winner and 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, boosts the winner’s lifetime bankroll to $256,000. Flexibility, a $185,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase last spring, has pocked 14 total Derby points including four earned for finishing second in the Remsen.
The Grade 3 Withers, the next official prep race for the Kentucky Derby at the Big A, will be held on January 30.