The Prep Killer
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NT, July 26, 2014—With “the Chief” somewhere in Hallandale Beach looking on, the “Prep Killer” emerged with a huge weekend.
“The Prep Killer,” a.k.a. “Peanuts” in the barn where he was growing up into a top assistant to his legendary father, H. Allen Jerkens, Jimmy Jerkens took a page from dad’s book and slew a pair of heavy favorites in Saratoga's two Travers preps this weekend.
But it had to be the victory of Wicked Strong, he of the occasional wicked will, that must have been the most gratifying of all--considering the addition of blinkers and all.
And, oh, what a difference a change of equipment made.
Jerkens has dealt with the temperamental colt in the run-up to, and through, the Triple Crown series. Crowds made the colt antsy, he tended to run very spottily in his races, turning himself off and on whenever it suited his fancy.
It was time to find out if a set of blinkers would work; get him in the game earlier, help him focus throughout a race.
In the G2 Jim Dandy, the blinkers carried Wicked Strong with a rush into contention despite a wide post draw, allowing him to reach near even terms with the speedy Legend soon after the leader entered the backstretch straight.
From there, Wicked Strong, under stout restraint from regular partner Rajiv Maragh, kept the leader in his sights, stalking him throughout, and when Tonalist loomed up alongside approaching headstretch, the winner came out to greet him and the real running began. In the end, the Belmont winner could not match strides with the Wood Memorial hero.
V.E. Day at the Spa; Lezcano Wins 2000th
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 25, 2014—As far as Travers preps go, today’s Curlin Stakes probably raised more questions than were answered, although it seems likely at this point that the first two finishers will return on August’s penultimate Saturday.
Coming from absolutely last and from as far back at 10 lengths between calls as the leaders entered the final turn, V. E. Day
, making his first career start on dry dirt in his fifth lifetime run, rallied strongly down the center of the strip to win the restricted 9-furlong event by a head over Charge Now
, making his second start this year and only fourth start in life, and a tepid 3-1 choice in a field reduced to nine with the program scratch of Commanding Curve
, was a nose farther back in third, the mile and an eighth going in a solid, albeit unspectacular, 1:50.51.
Another lightly raced colt, Viva Majorca
, finished even faster than the winner and was reaching the front three but ran out of racetrack.
A convincing case can be made that the Tiago
colt, making his first start beyond 7 furlongs and around two turns, was the best horse given the race's dynamics.