SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In the span of a few minutes on Saturday afternoon, trainer Steve Asmussen beat the Kentucky Derby winner in one state and unleashed a budding superstar in another.

Moments after Soul Warrior upended Big Drama and Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby, Asmussen saddled Stonestreet Stable and Gulf Coast Farms’ up-and-coming Kensei to a sparkling 2¼-length victory over Warrior’s Reward and Charitable Man to win the 46th edition of the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Kensei, a 3-year-old son of Mr. Greeley ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, sat just off fractions of 23.43 and 47.50 set by Warrior’s Reward, then surged to the front rounding the far turn and pulled away to hit the wire in 1:47.90 for the nine furlongs over a fast track.

“It’s been a good day,” said Asmussen, who Sunday will saddle Stonestreet’s Preakness-winning filly, Rachel Alexandra, against the boys again in the Haskell at Monmouth Park. “Kensei ran a tremendous race and Edgar gave him a great ride.”

The victory was Kensei’s second straight in a graded stakes, having taken the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park on July 4, and sets him up perfectly for a shot at the 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Saturday, August 29 – a race that is also under consideration for Rachel Alexandra.

“We have a lot on our plate tomorrow,” cautioned the trainer. “We’ll be happy and have a good dinner tonight and then deal with tomorrow before anything else.”

As for the possibility of both Rachel Alexandra and Kensei going in the Travers, Asmussen said simply: “That would be very improbable, but I am speaking out of turn.”

Both the second- and third-place finishers in the Jim Dandy have their eyes on the Travers as well.

Warrior’s Reward, who had finished third, 5½ lengths behind Kensei as the 4-5 favorite in the Dwyer, will go on to the “Mid-Summer Derby” should he come out of the race in good order, said trainer Ian Wilkes.

“I was pleased,” said Wilkes. “This horse could have folded. He could have finished third or fourth. The other two had a chance to beat him; he fought them off. We’re closing in on [Kensei] – we got beaten five and a half lengths last time, we might have been beaten two lengths this time. We’ll catch him.”

Charitable Man, who was sent off as the favorite by the crowd of 33,954 on a spectacularly sunny afternoon, closed stoutly from fifth to finish third, a neck behind Warrior’s Reward, in his first start since finishing fourth to Summer Bird in the Belmont Stakes.

“We had kind of a rough trip,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin of the beaten favorite. “It’s a prep for the Travers; we’ll see how he comes out of it.”

Following Charitable Man under the wire were Flat Bold, Convocation, and Saratoga Sinner. Miner’s Escape was scratched.

Kensei, who returned $7.50 for a $2 win bet, ran his record to 4-1-1 from seven starts and boosted his bankroll to $528,628 with the victory.

“He’s a beautiful horse; he was very composed today with the crowd,” said Asmussen. “For him to perform as he did on the highest stage speaks a great deal to his class. We’re glad to be on Kensei’s side.”