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Wicked Strong Tunes Up for Travers

Wicked Strong wins 2014 Jim Dandy.
Photo: Adam Mooshian, NYRA
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.


With 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.


"I 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."


Following 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.


The 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.


"He's 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."


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