Courvoisier entered Saturday’s $150,000 Jerome S. at Aqueduct with arguably the best pedigree of the eight newly-turned three-year-olds, but with only one career victory in four starts. The chestnut colt doubled that win total in the one-mile Kentucky Derby (G1) prep, which was contested in the slop and largely obscured by fog.
Under Jose Ortiz, Courvoisier advanced to second behind pacesetter Hagler approaching the far turn, took over from that rival in upper stretch, and drew off to score by 1 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:38.86. Courvoisier is owned by John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and James Spry, and is trained by Kelly Breen.
Courvoisier is by Tapit and out of 2014 champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi. The latter and her multiple Grade 1-winning half-brother, Omaha Beach, were reared by Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, who in turn produced champion Will Take Charge, Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy, and current Grade 2 heroine As Times Goes By.
Courvoisier earned 10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby by winning the Jerome. Smarten Up, who rallied for second at odds of 21-1, earned four points. Cooke Creek, the 1.45-1 favorite, earned two points in finishing third, and Unbridled Bomber picked up one point for fourth. The order of finish was rounded out by Hagler, Mr Jefferson, Ohtwoohthreefive, and Rumble Strip Ron.
Bred in Kentucky by Elevage II and Hill ‘n’ Dale and sold for $600,000 as a Keeneland November weanling, Courvoisier has now bankrolled $147,450. A distant third in his six-furlong debut at Monmouth Park in early September, he finished second next out when stretching out around two turns at Delaware Park. With blinkers added for his third start, Courvoisier was beaten a nose at Delaware again, but rebounded to graduate by a neck in a Dec. 2 Aqueduct maiden over nine furlongs.
“He does everything right. He just needed to put it all together,” Breen said. “He was being very juvenile in his first couple of races and I think this is the beginning of him moving forward.
“Right now, it looks like has a nice affinity for Aqueduct and in four more weeks is the Withers (G3) going two turns,” Breen added. “We’re excited for it because it’s where we were pointing him.”
The $250,000 Withers over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 5 will also award Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.