Epicenter will race in the Preakness

Epicenter will race in the 147th Preakness Stakes, his connections confirmed May 11. That will set up a Kentucky Derby (G1) rematch between upset victor Rich Strike and favored Epicenter.

Epicenter ran a big race in the Derby and was the only horse within hailing distance of the early lead to stay on until the end. But after turning back the bid of Zandon, he was unable to contain the late-running Rich Strike, who parlayed a perfect trip into a victory by three parts of a length.

David Fiske, longtime bloodstock manager for Epicenter’s owner Winchell Thoroughbreds, confirmed after speaking with trainer Steve Asmussen Wednesday morning that Epicenter will run in the May 21 Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at historic Pimlico Race Course.  The Louisiana Derby (G2) winner returned to the track for training earlier in the morning at Churchill Downs, with Asmussen liking what he saw as Epicenter jogged and galloped under Roberto Howell.

Plans call for Epicenter to work an easy half-mile on Monday and van to Pimlico on Tuesday.

“Steve said he was really pleased with how he went back to the track this morning,” Fiske said. “He said he looked great. I mean, we were going. It was just that (Epicenter) needed to tell us that he wanted to go.”

After watching Epicenter train, Asmussen called the Not This Time colt “a remarkable physical [specimen]. He’s very strong.”

“I thought he traveled well,” he said of Epicenter’s first day back training. “Roberto said he was himself, more of the same. Being himself is a good thing. I thought he took the Derby really well. He laid down like he normally does. He’s been nice and relaxed and traveled really good on the racetrack this morning.”

Epicenter dominated his division at the Fair Grounds over the winter, taking three of the track’s four sophomore stakes. After winning the Gun Runner there the day after Christmas, he finished second in the Grade 3 Lecomte before scoring in the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Overall, he has won four of seven starts, with earnings of over $1.6 million.

  • Epicenter at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Epicenter at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Epicenter won the Risen Star Stakes. Photo Hodges Photography.
  • Epicenter won the Risen Star Stakes. Photo Hodges Photography.
  • Epicenter won the Gun Runner Stakes. Photo Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir.