El Areeb put away even-money favorite and long-time leader Takaful around the far turn and coasted to another open-lengths victory in Monday’s $150,000 Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct.
Based in Maryland with trainer Cathal Lynch, M M G Stables’ son of Exchange Rate entered the Jerome off back-to-back wins at Laurel — a maiden by 8 3/4 lengths and the $100,000 James F. Lewis III — and blew the doors off this field as well, by 11 1/4 lengths, under Trevor McCarthy.
The 5-2 second choice in a field of seven newly-turned three-year-olds, El Areeb paid $7.60 after covering one mile and 70 yards on the muddy inner dirt in 1:46.17.
“We’ve been training this horse since the March sale and he’s just been getting better and better,” Lynch said. “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 two-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.”
The disappointment of the race was Shadwell homebred Takaful. An eight-length debut winner at Belmont in late October, the Bernardini colt was a distant third as the 4-5 favorite in the nine-furlong Remsen (G2) next out. Despite cutting back in trip for the Jerome and setting moderate splits of :23.28 and :48.11, he quickly folded under pressure around the turn, shortened stride in the lane and was not persevered with in trailing more than 39 lengths behind El Areeb.
Longshots completed the Jerome trifecta, with 14-1 chance Bonus Points edging 21-1 outsider True Timber for second by a half-length. El Areeb, Bonus Points, True Timber, and fourth-place finisher Win With Pride earned Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points of 10-4-2-1, respectively.
A $340,000 OBS March juvenile buy when last seen through the auction ring, El Areeb is the first stakes winner produced by Feathered Diamond, an A.P. Indy half-sister to Canadian stakes winner Dixieland Diamond and the Grade 3-placed Sky Diamond. Canadian champions Ruling Angel and Regal Intention also hail from this female line.
“I’ll speak to the owners and we’ll get together and we’ll discuss where we want to go next,” Lynch said. “We’ll just see how he comes out of it first.”
El Areeb, who ran fourth and second in his first two outings, has now earned $184,200 from a line of 5-3-1-0.