Photo: Adam Mooshian, NYRA
The winner of the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, Wicked Strong finished out of the money in
both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont. Though he was fourth in both events,
he ran well but just didn’t get his motor revved up in time. Trainer Jimmy
Jerkens went back to the drawing board for today’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy and gave his charge an equipment change. Running
with blinkers on for the first time in his career, the pride of Boston laid
closer to the pace and unleashed a stretch run that left his foes eating dust.
Gunned out of the gate from the start, Legend and Kid Cruz immediately went after the
early lead with Ulanbator and Wicked Strong in close pursuit. Caught four wide
going into the first turn, Wicked Strong utilized his forwardly place position
to go ahead and move into second, closing pressing Legend through fractions of
24:45, 47:73 for the half and 1.11:36 for three-quarters of a mile.
Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist
was never far out of it, content to sit just behind the early leaders through
the opening stages of the race. Meanwhile Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve was satisfied with
simply languishing at the back of the field, waiting to unleash his run in the
final stages of the race.
Into the far turn, Wicked Strong and Legend continued to
duel for the lead, but by the time the duo hit the stretch, Wicked Strong had shook
loose and was powering for home. Tonalist confronted the Hard Spun colt at the
top of the lane, but try as he might, he had no answer for Wicked Strong’s
powerful run for the wire. The margin of victory was 2 ¼ lengths.
"He kind of put it all together today and put on a good performance," said winning rider Rajiv Maragh. "He was very aggressive today, he put me in the race which I was happy about. Tonalist made a bold move and I thought, 'It's going to be a good horse race' from there, and Wicked Strong dug in and found extra and pulled away at the end."
Kid Cruz, winner of the Dwyer in his last start, finished a
distant 3rd, 3 ¾ lengths behind Tonalist, and Commanding Curve
passed tiring foes to finish 4th. Ulanbator and Legend completed the
order of finish.
The final time for the 1 1/8 mile race was 1.49:16. As the
2-1 second choice in the field of 6, Wicked Strong paid $6.40/$3.10/$2.40. Post
time favorite Tonalist returned $2.50/$2.10 off odds of 9-10, and third choice
Kid Cruz returned $2.50. The $2 exacta paid $12.40, the $2 trifecta returned
$32.40, and the $2 superfecta was worth $69.00.
Jerkens worked Wicked Strong once in blinkers prior to the Jim Dandy and felt the equipment change was just what his charge needed. "It might be my imagination but he always seemed to be running with his head cocked to the outside in his other races. I didn't really notice that today. I thought he ran straight and true," he stated.
By Hard Spun and out of the Charismatic mare Moyne Abbey,
Wicked Strong was purchased for $375,000 by Centennial Farms at the Keeneland
2012 September Yearling Sale. Today’s victory improved the bay colt’s record to
9: 3-1-1 for total purse earnings of $1,244,610. Next up for Wicked Strong is
the $1 million Grade 1 Travers Stakes on August 23, also held at Saratoga.
On Friday, V.E. Day won the 1 1/8 mile Curlin in his stakes debut for Jerkens. When asked about the possibility of entering both colts in the Travers, Jerkens replied, "We're going to think that way, that's for sure. A big race like that, a mile and a quarter, you've got to try. Tracks are different every day, but [V.E. Day] ran a second slower than Wicked Strong which isn't bad. He has improved in leaps and bounds with each race. Those kinds of horses usually have a lot of quality."