HOW HE GOT HERE
Jace’s Road has appeared in five consecutive points paying preps for the Kentucky Derby since breaking his maiden last July. After that score, he first appeared in the Iroquois Stakes [G3] over this Churchill oval. He pressed the pace throughout but proved no match for the winner, running third beaten 1 1/2 lengths. He wheeled back in the Street Sense Stakes [G3], going off as the 2-1 favorite, but he struggled over the sloppy track and was beaten 36 lengths. After a slight freshening, he rebounded by impressively wiring the Gun Runner Stakes field at Fair Grounds, beating fellow Derby contender Raise Cain in the process.
In his three year old debut, he caught two negative factors when disappointing in the Southwest Stakes [G3]. First and foremost, another sloppy track firmly cemented that this colt can’t handle an off going, as he paddled around the course similarly to his Street Sense loss. Additionally, he was forced further off the pace than usual when the superstar that is Arabian Knight outgunned him to the lead. A complete line through that start. He made his final Derby prep in the Louisiana Derby [G3]. Prior to the race beginning, he lunged at the gate and popped the stall doors. Despite that brief delay, he broke well and tried to enforce the pace from an outer draw, but Kingsbarns used his early speed to prevent that and Jace’s Road had to press. He ran as well as he could given the circumstances, but there was no beating Kingsbarns with the fractions he carved out. Jace’s Road ran a valiant third nonetheless and added 30 Derby points to his docket, putting him at 45 total leading into this race.
HOW HE FITS HERE
Jace’s Road will be one of the longest shots on the board in this year’s Kentucky Derby. His lone win outside of a maiden score came in a fairly light stakes race last December, and he was well beaten in both starts this year. There are some positives to glean from Jace’s Road’s record, however. If you look past his off-track form he has never been worse than third, and tactically he wasn’t given the best chance to win the Louisiana Derby last time out. With how this Derby is shaping up from a pace perspective, there is reason to believe Jace’s Road could be passing the panels in front early on in this race, which will benefit him greatly as his best starts have come when put on the lead. If those fractions are moderate to slow, he could easily stick around well into this race on trip alone.
CONNECTIONS AND PEDIGREE
Brad Cox brings in four runners to the 2023 Kentucky Derby, with the consensus being that Jace’s Road is his fourth string. The two-time Eclipse Award recipient was the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, albeit via DQ, with Mandaloun. He will pair his winning rider that day, Florent Geroux, with Jace’s Road for the Kentucky Derby. Geroux’s Derby record is very boom or bust as he has a third in 2016 to go along with the win, but has then been well beaten in his other four rides. The Frenchman is well regarded for his ability to ration out speed on frontrunning horses, so he certainly pairs well with his Derby mount.
Surprisingly enough, Jace’s Road will be just the second Derby starter for his sire, Quality Road. He is high up in many of the general sire standings, only trailing Into Mischief by most standards in recent years. Ironically enough, Florent Geroux was also the rider of his only other Derby starter, Roadster. Jace’s Road is out of the Silver Deputy mare, Out Post. There’s not much to off on this side of the pedigree, as none of his siblings have been runners and his dam was a turf sprinter.
Jace’s Road plays a key element in the 2023 Kentucky Derby on his early speed alone. He is one of only a few horses expected to go forward in the race and it will help his chances at running well in this race by leaps and bounds. If he draws inside those other likely speeds, it would be hard to envision a scenario where he wasn’t the one setting the pace. That will give him the best chance of winning or hitting the board. If he draws further out, it could be tough swimming, but that may be the scenario for this longshot regardless.