Two-time stakes winner Hold The Salsa will bid to make his mark in open company for trainer Richard Lugovich in the 151st running of the Jerome at Aqueduct Racetrack on New Year’s Day.
The $150,000 contest has been won by some greats of the game, including Tom Fool (1952), Bold Ruler (1957), Kelso (1960) and Carry Back (1961).
Hold The Salsa is one of five newly-graduating three-year-olds going after the prize this year, with the Jerome offering Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers.
Hold The Salsa has won three from six starts as a juvenile, including a last-time-out success in the seven-furlong NYSSS Great White Way at Aqueduct on December 6th.
He went four-wide on the home bend that day before fending off It’s Gravy to score. He also notched an October success around Belmont Park having begun his career at the same track in July with a shock success, defeating subsequent stakes winner Thin White Duke.
He has already scored $237,775 in prize money and his owner-trainer couldn’t be happier with him.
“He’s been training super. I know he’ll run well, it just depends on how well,” Lugovich said. “I want him to go a little farther, and I think longer distances are going to suit him. He gallops beautifully every day. He’s a very kind and nice horse.”
Hold The Salsa will be ridden by Romero Ramsay Maragh, who was on board for his maiden triumph, from post three in the Jerome.
Lugovich sees the traits of a good colt in the making and clearly has high hopes as the calendar gets ready to turn to an exciting 2021 for his Classic-generation hopeful.
“It’s always exciting to get good horses, and I can tell he’s getting better and better,” Lugovich added.
“Even though he’s quiet, he’s very good looking and a very handsome horse. Watching him gallop is when you can tell he’s a nice horse. He always drops his head. That’s good when you’re coming to the finish line.”
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez will hope that Eagle Orb can turn into a Kentucky Derby contender and he rises back to a mile after a six-furlong success at Aqueduct in November, where he posted a 74 Beyer speed figure. He tackled a mile in the Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park in October, front-running only to be picked off by subsequent Grade 2 winner Brooklyn Strong.
Manny Franco has the call on Eagle Orb and his trainer is ready to find out how good he is.
“The mile won’t be a problem. The first time we ran at a mile he did well, and now he has more seasoning into him,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been very good. It’s a step up for him, and we’re going to see what we got. We always can come back against New York-breds. Right now, it’s the start of three-year-old season, so we have to see what he can do.”
Capo Kane for Harold Wyner, the Brad Cox-trained Swill – the only one of the five not to win on his last start – and John Terranova’s Original complete the Jerome field.