BY NYRA Press Staff — Steve Asmussen, trainer of Epicenter (post 6, 7-5): “We’re extremely excited. With how well the Jim Dandy went and how well he’s done since – with the unfortunate defection of Charge It – it makes you realize how fortunate you are to get here healthy. Being good enough is hard, and then just getting there. I feel great about how he’s doing. I love the race that he ran over this racetrack, I like him at a mile and a quarter. Nothing but respect for some extremely good 3-year-olds, but I think we have the right one. I expected him to be the favorite, but I didn’t think about what the odds would be.
“I would have rather Early Voting [post 7] be to his inside simply because I think he’s the pace, and with Cyberknife drawing the one – he’s [Cyberknife] capable of pace. We just want a nice, clean trip.
“The Jim Dandy felt great to win, but the Travers is the goal.”
Brad Cox, trainer of Cyberknife (post 1, 7-2): “I’m good with it [post 1]. I’ve always said I’m more interested in how they come out as opposed to where they’re coming from. As long as he gets away from there well, I think we’ll be fine.”
Eric Reed, trainer of Rich Strike (post 2, 10-1):
“I wanted an inside post. Normally, we haven’t had an inside draw in any of our races, so we had to lose an extra two or three lengths dropping back and getting over to save ground around the first two turns. This way, we don’t have to lose that couple lengths and that could be the difference in this race.
“One of these days, he’ll leave the gate and show the speed he shows in the mornings. He’s done his works without any competition – no company. I did give him some company at Churchill and we sat him back a few lengths and he exploded when we asked him to go by. He’s a pretty good horse to work with. I think there’s a lot more speed in him and for whatever reason when he leaves the gate, he just doesn’t want to get out there running like he does in the morning. If he’s inside and is already where he wants to be, he might show a little early speed, and if he does, I think he has a really good chance.
“I think I kind of messed up the Belmont with my instructions and I don’t think he cared for the track. He trained good there but he worked so much harder than he normally does to do what he does so easily everywhere else.
“When he got here [to Saratoga] my big concern was the track and he took to it. He’s really done things very easily. His work the other day, I asked Gabriel [Lagunes, exercise rider], who is always on the money, for 49 or 50 and 1:02 and that would make me tickled to death. He went in 46 and 59 but he did it so easy. He skipped across the track. Now, we just have to get a trip and see if he can do what he did all year and that’s finish strong.”
Kelly Von Hemel, trainer of Ain’t Life Grand (post 3, 20-1): “We weren’t really concerned [with the post]. I didn’t want to be on the rail or anything like that, so post 3 is just fine.
“He’s settled in really well. He’s trained well over the track, he’s keeping his weight good, his energy level is really good. Everything’s been great. He’s trained great and like I said he’s carrying his weight well and he’s very happy right now, so everything’s been good.” On his most recent breeze: “We know the track was playing fast that day but usually he’s not a horse that works like that, so I think it was a good sign for him. He did it easily. He was very comfortable doing it and he came back great. I think it shows us that he’s peaking at the right time and we just want to see if he can fit in with these kind of 3-year-olds because it’s the best of the best and let’s take a shot.”
On getting the 10 furlongs: “A mile-and-a-quarter, really to be honest, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to try this because I think he can run that far. We don’t know what quality, but he is a mile-and-an-eighth, mile-and-a-quarter horse for sure.”