AGOS Horses to Watch: Kentucky Derby Favorite Epicenter

Will Trainer Steve Asmussen Win the KY Derby?

Hall of Fame horseman Steve Asmussen capped off a 5-win day with Epicenter’s impressive victory in the 1 3/16 miles Louisiana Derby.  The talented colt rode the rail while sitting in third.  Second choice Zozos, trained by Brad Cox, dictated the pace with mild pressure from the longshot Pioneer Of Medina behind him. Epicenter took over at the top of the lane and drew off with Rosario at one point looking under his arms for any competition.  The pacesetters hung on gamely for second and third respectively.  [Note that so far, two also rans from this race have returned in stakes company to run off the board.]

Prior to this start, Epicenter led gate to wire in the Risen Star Stakes.  He set a modest but consistent pace throughout and again won as much the best under jockey Joel Rosario.  The third place finisher Zandon returned to win the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland impressively, and the runner-up in the Risen Star placed in this same stakes.  Fifth place finisher Tawny Port won the Lexington Stakes two races later.  The Risen Star has turned out to be a key race on the 2022 Kentucky Derby trail.

California Star Flightline gearing up for Santa Anita return

Flightline, the talk of the horse racing world, had his first workout since his 11 1/2-length victory in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, going 4 furlongs in 47.80 ON Sunday morning.

“I had him in 48 and one on my watch, but more important is how he went,” trainer John Sadler told Ed Golden of Santa Anita publicity.

Sadler said Flightline, who’s won his three starts by a combined 37 1/2 lengths, will run next in the 7-furlong Grade II San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita on March 5. “The big goal is the Met Mile (at Belmont Park on June 11),” Sadler said.

Kentucky Derby prep races on Saturday

… There are two other Grade III Kentucky Derby prep races scheduled Saturday – the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, which attracted Remsen Stakes winner Mo Donegal (5-2 morning-line favorite), and the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, an 11-horse field that includes 3-1 morning-line favorite Early Voting from the Chad Brown barn. The Holy Bull also serves as a steppingstone to the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Withers is a prep for the Gotham Stakes, both to be run March 5.