Epicenter galloping at Pimlico
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter worked five-eighths in 1:01.13 Monday over the Oklahoma dirt training track at Saratoga, dominating his company, the 3-year-old maiden Flute Master [1:03.12].
Epicenter, a Not This Time sophomore, boasts a record of 8-4-3-0 for purse earnings in excess of $1.9 million. He is targeting the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, a nine-furlong test for sophomores on July 30.
“Visually-impressive is what he is,” Asmussen said. “He’s an extremely talented horse and he’s doing well. His work Monday was as good of a work as I’ve seen from him, and I’ve seen some impressive works from him. It’s a good time to be doing well.”
Epicenter enjoyed a pair of Grade 2 wins over the winter at Fair Grounds, taking the Risen Star in February and the Louisiana Derby in March. He was sent to post as the 4-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby in May, finishing a close second when defeated just three-quarters of a length by Rich Strike. He enters the Jim Dandy from a rallying second in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior, the reigning Eclipse Award-winning Male Sprinter, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.72 Sunday over the Oklahoma dirt training track in company with 3-year-old maiden winner Favorite Outlaw in preparation for a start in the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 30.
He will also potentially start later this summer in the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego on August 27 as part of his path towards a return engagement in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Keeneland.
The 4-year-old Maclean’s Music colt is a perfect 3-for-3 this year, boasting wins in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap in April at Oaklawn, the Grade 1 Churchill Downs in May and a five-length romp last out in the Grade 2 True North on June 10 at Belmont.
“It’s so rare to have a Champion colt be back in training and not only that, his three runs this year have been visually impressive,” Asmussen said. “He had a nice job here on Sunday and we’re on target for the Vanderbilt.”
Jackie’s Warrior, bred in Kentucky by J & J Stables, is a perfect 4-for-4 at the Spa, including juvenile scores in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 1 Hopeful along with wins last summer in the Grade 2 Amsterdam ahead of a game neck score over eventual Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-winner Life Is Good in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial.
“We want more of the same from him. He’s 4-for 4 here which is an unbelievable record,” Asmussen said. “His win here in the Allen Jerkens against Life Is Good was as good of a horse race as I’ve been involved with. It was wonderful to come out on the right side of that.”
Jackie’s Warrior made the first of seven sophomore starts on the Kentucky Derby trail, finishing third in the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn before returning to one-turn races with aplomb with a head score in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs. He followed with a good second when defeated a neck by Drain the Clock in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens at Belmont in a campaign that culminated with a win in the Grade 2 Gallant Bob in September at Parx ahead of a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Del Mar.
Asmussen will also be represented by multiple Grade 1-winner Clairiere in Sunday’s Grade 2 $200,000 Shuvee in a re-match with familiar foe Malathaat. Entries for the Shuvee will be taken on Thursday.