Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong
hit the track on Friday morning, turning in his penultimate work for
the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers - a four-furlong jaunt over the
Oklahoma training track that went in 48.71 seconds.
Photo: Adam Mooshian, NYRA
regular exercise rider Kelvin Pahal up for the breeze, Wicked Strong
galloped once around the track before breaking off from the half-mile
pole and sailing around the turn and through the stretch. The 3-year-old
son of Hard Spun maintained his powerful stride past the wire,
galloping out five furlongs in 1:01 and 3/5, according to NYRA clockers.
thought it was good," said Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Wicked Strong for
Centennial Farms. "I told [Kelvin] to start out easy, and that's the
beauty of working over here at the Oklahoma [training track], they don't
overdo it. I thought everything was perfect; it was just what we
wanted. The time was just right, and he seemed to gallop out on his own,
willingly. I thought it was a good work for two weeks after his last
race and to set him up for a more serious work next week."
a pair of disappointing efforts in South Florida over the winter,
Wicked Strong burst onto the 3-year-old landscape with a convincing win
in the Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct
Racetrack. After a pair of fourth-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby
and Belmont Stakes, Jerkens decided to outfit his ornery colt with
blinkers in the Jim Dandy.
equipment change paid immediate dividends. Wicked Strong was much
keener early in the Jim Dandy; he pressed a solid early pace set by
Legend and was still able to repel a challenge from Belmont Stakes
winner Tonalist, drawing off to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
maintained [since the Jim Dandy]," said Jerkens. "He's gotten a little
feistier since he's been up here, which colts tend to do. In a congested
area like this, there's a lot of activity. It's not easy to take him
out for a graze like it is [at Belmont]. There's a lot of noise, but in a
good way; he has to get used to it. There's going to be a lot of noise
on Travers Day. He's not going to be a perfect angel ever. I'm really
happy with where we're at right now."