(Trainer Brad Cox / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
Following an alert break from the gate, Godolphin LLC’s Hieronymus took command early and lengthened his advantage all the way through the finish line, dominating the $60,000 Randy P Memorial Stakes (formerly the Captain Maestri) by 9 ¾ lengths in a final time of 1:39.49 for the about one mile journey over a firm turf course at Fair Grounds Racecourse. Jack the Umpirefinished second and Perfect Star checked in third.
The race was named in honor of the Hall of Fame jockey Randy Romero, Louisiana native and fan favorite who passed away in late August at the age of 61. Several members of the Romero family were in attendance to present the trophy to the winning connections.
Following a win on debut in a maiden special weight race over the Ellis Park turf in August, Hieronymus returned to action in a first-level allowance in November at Churchill Downs. He set the pace that day, but faded to finish eighth of ten. The son of Girolamo bounced back with a win at the same level in what has since turned out to be a key at Fair Grounds in late December and Saturday’s score in the Randy P. Romero Memorial marked the Brad Cox trainee’s first career stakes tally. He now boasts a career record of 4-3-0-0 with earnings of $91,714.
Trainer Brad Cox — Hieronymus (1st):
“When you’re riding for guys like Brad Cox you know that you’re going to have a horse under you that is in shape and prepared,” winning rider Brian Hernandez Jr. said. “Today I just had to be a passenger and stay out of his way. He’s a pro, he knows what he’s doing out there and that last race was a key race. He showed us what he can do today. Down the lane I didn’t have to do much. I tapped him a couple of times to keep him focused because even though he was drawing away he was still wandering and looking around. He’s a horse that’s getting better and better. He’s nice.”
Assistant Trainer Ricky Giannini — Hieronymus:
“He showed some talent early on winning first time out at Ellis Park,” assistant trainer Ricky Giannini said of Hieronymus following the win. “He seems to be getting better and better with each start. He was a little green down the stretch but hopefully he can figure that out as he gets more racing experience. They came home pretty quick. He has some early speed and can still finish which is really good. It was a race all around. We’re proud of him.”
Wheeling back in just two weeks after finishing eleventh in the Lecomte (G3) on dirt, Jack the Umpire put in a solid runner up effort in his turf debut with jockey Colby Hernandez aboard.
Jockey Colby Hernandez — Jack the Umpire (2nd):
“My horse ran a good race,” Hernandez said. “He’s still a young horse who is still a little green. He didn’t care for it that much inside, but he’s still young. I think he will be a nice horse.”