By Jessica Martini
Epical (Uncle Mo) brought the curtain down on a record-setting weekend of racing with a gritty debut victory in the final race of the day at Santa Anita Sunday. Going a mile on the turf, the bay ridgling battled favored Concur (Curlin) on the front end and put that foe away in deep stretch before bravely holding off the late charge of Fibonacci (Artie Schiller) to win by a neck.
The performance was no surprise to trainer Jim Cassidy.
“My expectations were high,” Cassidy said Monday. “That’s why I ran him at a mile the first time. We knew he wanted to route and I thought he’d like the grass. I’m not going to say I was cocky enough to say he would win, but I thought he would run really well. I told the jock, ‘Listen this is a pretty nice horse, so wherever he breaks, don’t mess with him. Just let him do his thing.’ And that’s pretty much what happened. But I’ll tell you what, that was as game an effort as I’ve seen for a long time from a horse.”
Epical RNA’d for $145,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale before being acquired privately by Deron Pearson’s D.P. Racing.
“He was a ridgling, so the one [testicle] that was up in his belly, we took it out,” Cassidy said of Epical’s late debut. “He didn’t get over it quite as quickly as I had hoped. That was what took me so long to get him ready.”
The bay trained forwardly towards Sunday’s debut, including a five-furlong work in :59 4/5 (2/39) Jan. 21.
“He was pretty straightforward most of the time and always happy to do whatever he did,” Cassidy said. “I’d worked him in company. I worked him with a couple of nice horses and he held his own.”
As for what is next, Cassidy added, “I just want to make sure he’s ok for the next few days. He looked pretty tired this morning.”
While Epical’s next start is still to be determined, Cassidy expects it will be on the turf.