January 1 is the official birthday for all race horses regardless of when their actual date of birth.

That means the 2-year-olds turn three and the race for a spot in the 2021 Kentucky Derby begins in earnest. The first prep race of 2021 will also be run with Jerome at Aqueduct taking place.

Only five horses will go to post in the one-mile contest, with the winner getting the nod as the current one to watch at the Derby preps in New York.

While the Withers, run on February 6, will begin to see more the New York favorites, it is the Jerome that kicks it off!

The 7/5 morning line favorite is Swill out of the Brad Cox barn. Kendrick Carmouch draws the assignment for the first time. The horse has only won once in four starts, with that being in a straight maiden race in September at Churchill Downs.

In his last start he turned in a pedestrian fourth-place finish at the Kentucky Jockey Club, also at Churchill.

Eagle Orb (9/5) is the second choice for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. Manuel Franco takes the call for the third straight on the horse that has won twice in five starts, including his last, the Notebook at Aqueduct in mid-November.

Original (7/2) has put in two efforts for trainer John Terranova. The first start came in October at Belmont Park and was a horrible effort as the horse got bumped at the start and didn’t run a lick, finishing eighth.

Things turned around in the second start when he went to the turf at Aqueduct and scored a two-length win. Now it’s back to the dirt with Jose Lezcano up.

Hold the Salsa (4/1) is the only horse in the field with three wins, including an easy win in a stake at Aqueduct on December 6. Richard Lugovich trains and Romero Maragh gets the call for the ride.

Capo Kane (12/1) rounds out the field and is taking a big step for trainer Harold Wyner and jockey Dylan Davis. The horse has two starts, breaking his maiden in the last race, winning by over four lengths. But the race was at Parx so expect this to be a step up.

He did wire the field that day and the price may be one to look at with none of the other four looking unbeatable.

By Dennis Miller

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