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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

Wicked Strong too tough for Jim Dandy foes

Wicked Strong wins 2014 Jim Dandy.
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."  


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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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