Epicenter Installed 7-5 Morning Line Favorite Among Eight Entered In Runhappy Travers
August 24, 20222 min read
The field is set for the 153rd running of Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where three-time graded stakes winner Epicenter leads a competitive group of eight, including four Grade 1 winners.
The Travers is among the most historic and prestigious races for 3-year-olds, and predates all three Triple Crown races. Inaugurated in 1864, the 10-furlong event is the Spa's marquee race and honors Saratoga's first president, William Travers, who won the first running with the A.J. Minor-trained Kentucky.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Epicenter enters from a victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 30 and will attempt to become the 12th horse to sweep the Jim Dandy-Travers double. One of five millionaires in the field, Epicenter boasts field-best earnings of $2,270,639 and a record of 9-5-3-0.
Epicenter, one of two sons of Not This Time in the Travers, enters off a string of four triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures as the only horse in the race with more than one triple-digit number.
Following a victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star on Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds, he registered a 102 Beyer in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at the New Orleans oval. He followed with two Triple Crown placings behind returning rivals, including a 100 Beyer when second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, beaten three-quarters of a length by Rich Strike, two weeks before running a 102 with a closing second in the Grade 1 Preakness to Early Voting.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, in search of his first Travers victory, said he believes the talented colt is at the forefront of this crop of sophomores.
“He's arguably the best 3-year-old in the division despite not having a Grade 1 win that he needs,” Asmussen said. “We've all witnessed his Classic defeats with our mouths agape. But watching that happen in the Derby and the Preakness, we realize how fortunate we have to be. It looks like an incredible field, and I imagine all eyes will be on him on the grandstand and the racetrack.”
In the Jim Dandy, Epicenter was last-of-4 down the backstretch and displayed a strong kick when advancing to the lead at the stretch call and drew off to a 1 1/2-length victory. The winning effort produced his third 102 Beyer.
“I love the race that he ran over this racetrack. I like him at a mile and a quarter,” Asmussen said. “Nothing but respect for some extremely good 3-year-olds, but I think we have the right one.”
Joel Rosario, also in search of his first Travers victory, retains the mount aboard Epicenter from post 6. Bred in Kentucky by Westwind Farm, he has been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite.