February 22, 2024

Epicenter gets rematch vs Early Voting, Zandon in five-horse Jim Dandy

Early Voting held Epicenter safe in deep stretch of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

A small but dynamite field of five will contest Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga, a springboard to the $1.25 million Travers (G1) on Aug. 27. Four contestants own Triple Crown experience.

Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) runner-up Epicenter will be well-supported in his comeback. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the Not This Time colt recorded convincing wins in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star (G2) prior to the first leg of the Triple Crown, and Epicenter was favored in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Joel Rosario retains the assignment on the early/presser.

Early Voting, a 1 1/4-length scorer in the Preakness last out, brings dangerous speed to the equation. A frontrunning winner in three of his last four starts, the lone setback being a neck second in the Wood Memorial (G2) that earned him a 111 Brisnet Speed rating, the Chad Brown-trained colt will be forward from the break with Jose Ortiz. Early Voting is from the first crop of record-breaking freshman sire Gun Runner.

Brown will also send out Blue Grass (G1) victor Zandon, who will make his first appearance since a 1 1/2-length third in the Kentucky Derby. The stalker has registered Brisnet Late Pace ratings of 116 and 114 in his five-race career, and will be rallying with Flavien Prat.

Tawny Port stamped his Kentucky Derby ticket with a Lexington S. (G3) win, and following a closing seventh at Churchill Downs, the Brad Cox-trained colt rallied to capture the June 25 Ohio Derby (G3) going away by a length. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back up on the potential up-and-coming son of Pioneerof the Nile.

Western River, fourth when making his stakes debut in the Peter Pan (G3) two back, will return to stakes competition after a 5 1/4-length triumph over entry-level allowance foes over 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs. Rodolphe Brisset trains the gray full-brother to 2017 Belmont S. (G1) winner Creator, and Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call.