Maryland-based El Areeb romps in Jerome
El Areeb won the James F. Lewis, III Stakes at Laurel in November. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
From a NYRA release
M M G Stables’ El Areeb picked up10 points towards securing a spot in the starting gate at the 2017 Kentucky Derby, recording his third straight victory with an 11 ¼-length romp in the mud in Monday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Jerome at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Breaking from post 6 with Trevor McCarthy, El Areeb quickly regained his balance following a slight bobble from the gate to settle in second through the early going as even-money favorite Takaful took the field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.28 seconds and the half in 48.11. El Areeb pounced on Takaful in the far turn, easily taking the lead near the three-eighths pole.
Holding a clear advantage as the field reached the top of the stretch, the Cathal Lynch trainee drew off to a comfortable victory on the muddy and sealed inner track, completing the mile-and-70-yard route in 1:46.17.
The win was the third in a row for El Areeb, but his first around two turns, following an 8 ¾-length maiden-breaking score in October and his 5 ¼-length win in the James F. Lewis III Stakes on November 19, both going six furlongs, gate to wire, and at his Laurel Park home base.
“We’ve been working him two-turns in the morning and he turns off so well, he really seems to finish and like the two-turns, so hopefully it goes forward like that,” said McCarthy. “We’ve worked him on dead tracks and fast tracks, and it seems like gets over on anything. He can run on broken glass. Anything you ask him to do, he’ll do for you. It’s super exciting for the whole barn.”
The gray colt by Exchange Rate returned $7.60 for a $2 win wager as the 5-2 second choice. A $340,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase last spring, El Areeb earned $90,000 for the Jerome win to boost his lifetime bankroll to $184,200.
“We’ve been training this horse since the March sale and he’s just been getting better and better,” said Lynch. “He’s worked a couple really good mile-and-an-eighths at Laurel [in] 1:55. The last couple of works have been quite impressive. We have a lot of 2-year-olds, maybe 20, 22 each year, and he’s probably the best horse I’ve trained in 20 years. I think today he’s proved he’s a legit contender.”
Bonus Points closed from last early to finish second and earn four points toward a Derby berth, while True Timber earned two points and Win With Pride picked up a point for their respective third- and fourth-place finishes. Everybodyluvsrudy, The Walk and Takaful rounded out the order of finish.
The Grade 3 Withers, the next official prep race for the Kentucky Derby at the Big A, will be held on February 4.