With 2-year-old horses he feels could be something special at age 3, trainer Kelly Breen has a simple philosophy: “Keep him moving forward.”
That’s what the conditioner will attempt to do Dec. 16 when he saddles Epic Dreamer, an easy Belmont Park maiden special weight winner hitting the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail in the $400,000 Springboard Mile.
Breen said the son of Orb arrived to Oklahoma’s Remington Park on Tuesday and “seemed to train well” Wednesday in his first morning on track.
“It would be more than just a win,” Breen said of the possibilities later this month. “It would also be a learning experience for him.”
Epic Dreamer could then go on to target Gulfstream Park’s series of preps, mainly the Florida Derby (G1), before seeking to become the barn’s first Kentucky Derby starter since Pans On Fire finished ninth in 2011.
Epic Dreamer has been flattered since his Oct. 28 victory given who he faced first out. Vekoma, who beat him by 1 3/4 lengths, won the Nashua Stakes (G3) in his next start. Mihos, who was third behind Epic Dreamer, was a next-out maiden special weight winner now also on the Derby Radar.
The $185,000 purchase Epic Dreamer won on the front end going 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.18, geared down by jockey Javier Castellano near the wire.
“We’ve trained him to rate, and I think he was extremely sharp after that first race and how fast they ran,” Breen said. “I don’t want to say he inherited the lead, but he broke so sharp. For Javier to have taken him back at that point, he would have been like, ‘What did I do that for?’
“So he just went with it and kind of — I don’t want to say he won in hand, but it looked that way.”
The Springboard Mile awards Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to its Top 4 finishers. With a hefty purse, Breen likened it to the Delta Downs Jackpot, which was not renewed in 2018. Epic Dreamer’s next spot won out over a $75,000 stakes set for Saturday at Gulfstream, the Smooth Air.
Owner Epic Racing is the stable name of Harriet Sawyer, an artist who lives in New York and owns a small number of horses, Breen said. Laurel Park stakes winner Valedictorian last weekend finished second for Sawyer as well in the Claiming Crown Tiara Stakes.
Next up: Derby dreaming?
“Right now, one race at a time,” Breen said, “but all systems are full steam ahead.”