Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter, among the most consistent three-year-olds this season, secured the first Grade 1 win of his outstanding career with an emphatic score in the $1,250,000 Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, Aug. 27.
With regular rider Joel Rosario in the irons, Epicenter was sent off as the even-money favorite in the field of eight accomplished sophomores in the 153rd running of the prestigious Travers. Away from the gate in good order, Epicenter raced in third early as dual Grade 1 winner Cyberknife set the pace under Florent Geroux.
Cyberknife dictated proceedings down the backstretch while Epicenter rated kindly for Rosario. Around the far turn, Epicenter set his sights on the lead. He took command with authority at the head of the lane and there was no catching him on this day. With Cyberknife battling gamely at the rail and Zandon and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike giving game chase, Epicenter strolled the wire a 5 1/4-length winner over Cyberknife with Zandon third. Epicenter covered the 10 furlongs in the fast time of 2:00.72.
“It was really gratifying,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “We walked over today with a tremendous amount of confidence in the horse, but definitely remember we felt exactly that way walking over for this year’s Derby. He was away cleanly and though he was very comfortable attending close enough to the early pace, he just ran a very dominating performance against a very good group.”
Ron Winchell said of the prized win, “As long as I can remember, the history of Saratoga and the horses my family has run over the years, the Travers is always the marquee race. Coming here with Gun Runner and running third and Midnight Bourbon running second last year, it just makes you want to win it that much more. It makes this win this race that much more special for myself and my family.”
Bred in Kentucky by Westwind Farms, Epicenter is by Not This Time out of the Candy Ride (ARG) mare Silent Candy. The handsome bay colt was a $260,000 acquisition at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The Travers win improved his lifetime record to 10-6-3-0 and swelled his bankroll to $2,940,639.
Winner of the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on July 30, Epicenter was second in this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), and he won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. Last year at two, Epicenter captured the Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs in his second lifetime start.