Instilled Regard and Firenze Fire Earn Kentucky Derby Points
The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Monday with holiday racing at Oaklawn Park for the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. But over the weekend, two more colts earned victories in Derby prep races when Instilled Regard won the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds and Firenze Fire rallied to win the delayed running of the Jerome Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.
The Lecomte lived up to the advance billing as the best Derby prep in January. Sitting a stalking pace, Instilled Regard (5-2) moved to the lead near the top of the stretch and left favored Principe Guilherme (6-5) nearly 4 lengths back battling for second in a photo with Snapper Sinclair (28-1), both of those horses from the Steve Asmussen barn.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said leading into the Lecomte that he expected better last time out from Instilled Regard. That was after the colt ran stride for stride with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini and McKinzie, also a next-out dominant winner, in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity.
Instilled Regard finished the mile and 70 yards in a final time of mile and 70 yards was 1:42.59 with Javier Castellano aboard and paid $6.60 to win. Instilled Regard is now 2-2-1 in five starts with earnings of $228,000.
Fair Grounds’ road to the Derby continues Feb. 17 with the Grade 2 Risen Star, the first race on the trail offering 50 points — essentially a win-and-in amount — to the Churchill Downs starting gate.
In the $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, Firenze Fire (2-5) rallied late to win the one-turn mile in a slower final time of 1:42.88 over a sealed muddy track. Firenze Fire paid $2.90 with second-choice Seven Trumpets (3-1) a half length back and more than five lengths in front of 3rd place finisher Coltandmississippi.
Firenze Fire is now 4-0-0 in six starts with earnings of $539,100. He’s earned 20 Derby points having won the Champagne (G1) at Belmont in October
Aqueduct’s Road to the Kentucky Derby continues Feb. 3 with the 1 1/8 mile Withers followed by the 1 mile Gotham March 10 offering 50 Derby points to the winner and a spot in the starting gate.