Drum Roll Please Marches to $150K Jerome Victory

January 6, 2024

Drum Roll Please wins the Jerome under Javier Castellano (Chelsea Durand)

By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Gold Square’s Drum Roll Please, with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano up for trainer Brad Cox, rallied last-to-first to best a compact field of five in Saturday’s $150,000 Jerome, a one-turn mile for sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack.

In victory, the Hard Spun colt earned the maximum allotment of 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points available to the top-five finishers, respectively, bringing his total to 13 points having entered from a third-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen on December 2 here.

Castellano, who won last year’s Kentucky Derby with Mage, said Drum Roll Please is an intriguing prospect after overcoming the inside post and a moderate tempo to secure the 3 3/4-length score.

“I appreciate the opportunity from the owner and the trainer to ride one of the best horses on the grounds. It’s a good preparation for the Kentucky Derby,” Castellano said. “It’s the first step and we’re here to develop the young horses for the big picture in the future. I’m grateful to be a part of it and hopefully we have continued success. One step at a time.”

Dual New York-bred stakes-winner El Grande O bobbled at the start under Kendrick Carmouche, but recovered quickly to take the lead away from the fast-starting Regalo and mark the opening quarter-mile in 24.50 seconds over the fast main track.

El Grande O led the field to the turn with Regalo pressing the pace to his outside and Khanate, who stumbled at the break, making a three-wide rush into contention with Drum Roll Please in fifth to the outside of Sweet Soddy J through a half-mile in 49.06.

Drum Roll Please raced four wide through the turn and angled wider still for the stretch run as El Grande O clung to a narrow lead at the stretch call. But Drum Roll Please took command with an eighth of a mile to run and drew away to score comfortably in a final time of 1:41.91. El Grande O completed the exacta by 7 1/2-lengths over Khanate with Regalo and Sweet Soddy J completing the order of finish.

Castellano, who won four straight Eclipse Awards [2013, 2014, 2015, 2016] and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, enjoyed a career resurgence last year by winning his first Kentucky Derby before teaming up with Arcangelo to secure his initial victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and a record-extending seventh score in the Grade 1 Travers.

The veteran rider picked up his first stakes win of 2024 and said he enjoyed the opportunity to provide an educational victory for a potential Derby prospect.

“I had the one-hole and I let him break and get good position himself, don’t take away anything and don’t force it too much. Let him develop,” Castellano said. “Everybody rushed a little bit to get the spot. I was able to get a better spot in the race, off the pace. Teach the horse something for the future. I like that idea and it worked out great. Perfect trip behind horses, step outside and let him roll and teach him something. I like the way he did it today.”

Drum Roll Please after his Jerome score (Janet Napolitano)

Dustin Dugas, local assistant for Cox, said he was pleased with the effort from the up-and-coming Drum Roll Please.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth with him physically and mentally in the mornings, so we were expecting something nice from him today, and he showed it,” Dugas said. “We’ve always thought he would go all day, and now with that fitness and that physical development, he can.

“We thought there was going to be some pace in there and he was going to have to carve out a trip from off the pace,” added Dugas. “Javier just stayed calm and cool about it and was professional.”

Carmouche said the Linda Rice-trained Barry Schwartz homebred El Grande O, winner of the state-bred Bertram F. Bongard and Sleepy Hollow here, dug in gamely.

“He did fight back up the lane – he didn’t want to give up,” Carmouche said. “He still got himself in good position [after a bobbled start], no excuse. If anything, he ran his race and the track was a little too deep today. It took a lot out of him.”

Gold Square racing manager Joe Hardoon said he was pleased with the effort from Drum Roll Please, who could target the nine-furlong Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 3 at the Big A which offers 20-10-6-4-2 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

“He got it done,” Hardoon said. “We were a little worried how the track was playing after the first couple races. It looked real deep and slow and hard to pass horses, but he got the job done.

“I think we have to look at the Withers and get him back to a mile and an eighth,” Hardoon continued. “I think that’s more his game than this one-turn mile. We’ll see how he comes out of this and bounces back and definitely look to getting him back around two turns.”

A $250,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, Drum Roll Please is out of the multiple stakes-winning E Dubai mare Imply. His fourth dam, Sharon Brown, produced Hall of Famer and dual Champion Holy Bull.

Bred in Pennsylvania by Barlar, LLC., Drum Roll Please banked $82,500 in victory while improving his record to 5-2-1-1. He returned $3.20 for a $2 win bet.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern. 

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