Jerome Winner El Areeb’s Got the Derby Goods
By Casey Laughter
MMG Stable’s El Areeb made his graded stakes debut a smashing one, winning the Jerome Stakes (GIII) at Aqueduct on Monday by 10 lengths. In the gray son of Exchange Rate’s two-turn debut he pressured favored Takaful (Bernardini) before taking the lead coming into the stretch at Aqueduct, thoroughly living up to the expectations of trainer Cathal Lynch and jockey Trevor McCarthy.
“We’ve been working him two turns in the morning, “McCarthy said. “He really seems to finish and like the two turns, so hopefully it goes forward like that. We’ve worked him on dead tracks and fast tracks, and it seems like he gets over on anything. He can run on broken glass. Anything you ask him to do, he’ll do for you.”
El Areeb was purchased by Eisaman Equine for $100,000 as a Keeneland September yearling before being sold to his current connections for $340,000 as an Ocala Breeders’ Sales 2-year-old in training. He is now on a three-race win streak from five career starts. He finished fourth in his debut at Parx in June and came back to finish second three months later in September at Laurel. Finally in his third start he got the job done to break his maiden and has since moved on well, winning the James F. Lewis III Stakes at Laurel before capturing the Jerome. El Areeb has won his past three starts by a combined 25 ¼ lengths and his career line now reads 5-3-1-0, $184,200. He was bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Farms LLC.
Exchange Rate, who was euthanized at the beginning of 2016 due to health issues, was a good sprinter-middle distance horse, winning the seven-furlong Tom Fool Handicap (GII) after placing in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (GIIT) and Lane’s End Churchill Downs Handicap (GII). As a stallion, he stood the majority of his career in North America at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, commanding up to $30,000 in 2013 and was then sold to Florida where his fee was dropped to $7,500. He also shuttled to Haras La Leyenda in Argentina in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
His progeny includes runners on both turf and dirt, including Ball Dancing, Ermine, Sunset Glow, and Unstoppable U. In 2016, Exchange Rate runners earned more than $4 million with Miss Ella being his chief earner. He also had 185 runners, 94 winners (51%), two graded stakes winners, and one grade 1 winner. In 2015, Exchange Rate bred 127 mares with 96 live foals produced in 2016.
Exchange Rate is a son of Danzig, a son of the mighty Northern Dancer and one of the most prominent stallions in Thoroughbred history. Northern Dancer is a son of Nearctic, who also is a son of Nearco. The two stallion lines in El Abreeb’s pedigree both trace back to Eclipse.
El Areeb is out of the A.P. Indy mare Feathered Diamonds and is her first stakes winner, though all four of her starters are winners. Feathered Diamond won just once in her eight starts, but that win came at nine furlongs in maiden special weight company at Keeneland.
A.P. Indy was a top-notch distance runner as well, having won the 1992 Belmont Stakes (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). He has proven to be an influential dirt stallion, through both his sons and daughters over the years. His top sons include Malibu Moon, Bernardini, Mineshaft, and Pulpit. Other lineage that hails from A.P. Indy is top stallion Tapit, who is a grandson of the classic stallion. As a broodmare sire, A.P. Indy has proven to pass along stamina and his daughters have produced top horses on every surface, including Imagining (Giant’s Causeway), Khozan (Distorted Humor), Royal Delta (Empire Maker), Crown Queen (Smart Strike), Super Saver (Maria’s Mon), Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat) and Cal Nation (Distorted Humor).
Through A.P. Indy, El Areeb comes from the Boldnesian branch of the Bold Ruler sire line, which traces all the way back to Nashrullah, Nearco, and finally, Eclipse. Additionally, the colt also has the influence of Bold Ruler quite a few times throughout his pedigree. While he gets the Boldnesian line through A.P. Indy’s sire, Seattle Slew, he also gets a dose of Bold Ruler through Secretariat, the broodmare sire of A.P. Indy. Also, there is Bold Ruler blood through Exchange Rate, whose second dam, Spectacular Bev, is a granddaughter of Bold Bidder.
El Areeb has inbreeding to Mr. Prospector in the third and fourth generations of his pedigree. Mr. Prospector is arguably influential as Northern Dancer as he’s added more speed to the American Thoroughbred and carries on the Polynesian line, which is again, a descendant of Eclipse.
While El Areeb has the historical pedigree of one who can easily go two turns, he is going to have to soon prove that he is better than what he faced in the Jerome.
His connections are high on him to continue moving forward, and with him now proven around two turns and having ten points toward a start in the Kentucky Derby, the colt has many positives, and now just has to continue improving in the right direction.
“Anything you ask him to do, he’ll do for you. It’s super exciting for the whole barn,” McCarthy said.