Epicenter, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, won the $1.25 million Travers Stake by 5 1/2 lengths today. Cyberknife finished second, Zandon claimed third, and Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike finished fourth.
Despite being a favorite coming into his three-year old season, the Travers was the first Grade 1 win for Epicenter, and likely cemented his chance of being named 3-year-old Male Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards. It was his fourth win in seven starts this year and sixth lifetime win.
The eight-horse field was stacked with impressive three year olds — Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, Preakness winner Early Voting, and Haskell winner Cyberknife, who set the early pace. Chad Brown, leading trainer at Saratoga with 34 wins entering the day, saddled three horses — Early Voting, Zandon, and Artorius — in his bid to win the Travers for the first time.
However it was trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Joel Rosario, and owner Ron Winchell who collected their first Travers trophy.
“The Travers is always the marquee race,” Winchell said. “Coming here with Gun Runner and running third and Midnight Bourbon finishing second last year, it just makes you want to win it that much more. It makes this win in this race that much more special for myself and my family.”
Rich Strike, in his first race since running 6th in the Belmont, ran a good race but was probably too close to the early speed and stayed on the rail, which was not the fastest part of the track today.
Epicenter is now aimed at the Breeder’s Cup.