In a race that figures to produce contenders for Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ well-supported prep races for the Triple Crown, Jace’s Road posted an impressive front-running score in the $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes on “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” Dec. 26 at the New Orleans area track.
Back on a fast track after an off-the-board performance as the 2-1 favorite in a sloppy edition of the Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs, Jace’s Road posted his best race to date in the Gun Runner. The son of Quality Road broke well under jockey Florent Geroux, cruised through a half-mile in :48.18 while pressed by favorite Determinedly, maintained that advantage through the far turn, and then drew off in the stretch to win by a widening 5 1/2 lengths.
“He broke super sharp,” said Geroux. “On paper it didn’t seem there was much speed so I thought if my horse won the break then I would take it from there.”
The Gun Runner was a points race on the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. With his victory, Jace’s Road earned 10 points and moved up to fourth on the Road to the Derby Leaderboard with a total of 13 points.
“Believe it or not this wasn’t really the goal after his last race at Churchill,” trainer Brad Cox said, referring to Jace’s Road’s finish in the Street Sense. “We kinda gave him some time off after that and then we came down here with him and he really put together a couple of nice works which told us he was ready to go.”
The connections of West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables figure to be looking forward to the new year after Jace’s Road completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.85 to secure his first stakes win. Jace’s Road easily won his six-furlong debut Aug. 6 at Ellis Park and followed with a Grade 3-placing when third in the Iroquois Stakes Sept. 17 at Churchill Downs when stretched out to two turns for the first time.
Raise Cain earned his second straight stakes placing when he rallied in the stretch to finish second, punching past third-place Determinedly in the final yards.–with Joe Perez