Express Tour romped to victory in the Jerome.

Express Tour romped to victory in the Jerome.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Express Tour Romps in Jerome Handicap

Godolphin's Express Tour alternately pressed and set the early pace en route to winning Saturday's $150,000 Jerome Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Under John Velazquez, Express Tour completed the one-mile race in 1:34.57 on a fast track.

Express Tour, the highest price in the five-horse field at 8-1, presses Hero's Tribute through a :22.38 opening quarter-mile and put his head in front during the subsequent quarter run in :22.22. Burning Roma trailed the field through the first half-mile then put in a strong run to move into contention. Express Tour repulsed the challenge and drew away to a 5 1/2-length win over Illusioned, with Burning Roma missing second-place by a nose. Scorpion and Hero's Tribute completed the order of finish.

"I told John (Velazquez) to keep him clear and don't discourage him," said assistant trainer Tom Albertrani. "When I saw the :44, I said, `I hope we're not going too fast here.' When he turned for home, you could see he wasn't stopping. I always thought a mile would be his best race. The Stuyvesant or Discovery are possible starts."

The win marks the first for Express Tour since his game victory over Street Cry and Lido Palace in the UAE Derby (UAE-III) in March. He earned $90,000 for the win, his fifth in eight career starts. The Saeed bin Suroor trainee was bred in Florida by Karen Silva.

Express Tour returned $18, $8.50, and $2.80. Illusioned paid $5 and $2.40. 6-5 favorite Burning Roma returned $2.10. The winning exacta combination paid $74.50. (Chart, Equibase)