Epicenter wins Grade 2 Jim Dandy in Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (AP) — Epicenter is back where trainer Steve Asmussen thinks he should be — in the winning circle.

To finish second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in May, Epicenter returned to the track on Saturday, charging from outside in a four-horse duel, for an encouraging victory in the $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dendy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course was charged for. Slice off the zandon by 1 1/2 lengths.

It was Epicenter’s third win for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds to go with the Triple Crown as runners-up this year. It was a plus in the traditional Saratoga submission race for the $1.25 million Traverse Stakes here in four weeks.

Asmussen, who won Jim Dandy for the third time, said: “It’s extremely rewarding to have him back in the winner’s circle in two tough races, where we think he should be.” “It was his first race in Saratoga, and we know what’s on the menu ahead. We want to be as prepared for it as possible.”

Ruled by Joel Rosario, Epicenter charged from outside as the small field was tied together across the track, then pulled away to hold Xandon for 1 1/2 lengths. Tawny Port finished third.

Epicenter ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 4/5 and paid $4.20 and $2.60. Xandon paid $3.20.

Early voting of the Preakness winner, in his first race since that signature victory at Pimlico in May, set the pace early, but finished fourth in the end. Early voting had won three out of four times.

“Salute to the winner,” said Chad Brown, who coaches both Xandon and Early Voting. “He didn’t break that good and yet he circled the field and won well. He was the best horse today,” he said.

Rosario was also aboard the Epicenter in Triple Crown disappointments. Epicenter closed in eighth place in both races, finishing three-quarters of a length behind Rich Strike in the Derby and just a length behind Early Voting in Preakness.

This time it was his turn. Not This Time’s Bay Sun also surpassed Xandon in a Grade 2 Risen Star, then won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

“He was there for me,” said Rosario. “He’s a really good horse. He’s old now, and has matured, stuff like that. He really tried hard. He always tries. When we did run him in Preakness, the pace was really good and he still came back.

A 20–1 longshot was scratched to run his second run with Western River, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.

It was the culmination of a banner day for Asmussen, who won Jim Dandy with Kensey in 2009 and Tenfold four years earlier. $350,000 Alfred G. In Vanderbilt’s 38th race, his much-loved Jackie Warrier won his fourth straight race and captured the fifth victory of his career Grade 1 victory, beating Niedipinsno and Willie Boi with ease.

Jackie’s Warrior became the first horse to win Grade 1 at Saratoga for three consecutive years and has won 12 times in 16 career starts.

“Great racehorses who live here and he is the only one to do so,” Asmussen said. “She’s the complete package.”

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