Coming off a good rest since the Preakness, Epicenter tossed off the mantle of his two Triple Crown second-place runs and handily drilled down in a stretch duel to best Zandon for the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2). Tawny Port ran third, and, with Western River scratched, Epicenter’s Preakness nemesis, Early Voting, ran a surprising fourth. Which is to say: Despite his stellar Preakness victory — and his usual fleet, front-running style — theoretically setting him up perfectly for this race, Early Voting ran dead last.
Epicenter’s win was all the more bracing for trainer Steve Asmussen since it was such a “short” race, at a mile-and-an-eighth. What that means is that jockey Joel Rosario and his mount were able to stay in the race and make their alert move in plenty of time to make it matter, something that had not happened in their Kentucky Derby and Preakness efforts.
It was Epicenter’s breezy stretch run that sealed it, meaning, the proof of his ability — at whatever distance, not just in the “big” races — to muster his move. This will come as a great relief to trainer Asmussen and, if all goes well at Saratoga through this next month, will augur well for the Travers field. Most of these heavy gunslingers were in the Jim Dandy in order to get a contest under their belts for the August 27 showdown.