TDN Top Triple Crown Contenders


2) EPICENTER (c, Not This Time–Silent Candy, by Candy Ride {Arg}) O-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. B-Westwind Farms (KY). T-Steven M. Asmussen. Sales History: $260,000 ylg '20 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 6-4-1-0, $1,010,639. Last Start: 1st GII Louisiana Derby. KY Derby Points: 164. Post 3, 7-2.

Epicenter is the rare “what you see is what you get” Derby contender. Flash and panache aren't his style. But this $260,000 KEESEP colt by Not This Time is as reliable and consistent as they come, with strengths rooted in being able to withstand fraction after fraction of up-tempo splits on the front end while still having enough stamina left to spar through the stretch with anyone who's challenged him so far. He's only lost once (and then just barely) in the last half-year, his Beyer Speed Figures have increased in every start, and Epicenter owns a key victory over both the Nos. 1 and 3 horses on this list.

The main arguments against his chances of winning have to do with historical trends. Epicenter's six-week break between his final prep and the Derby represents a race-spacing pattern that has only produced two winners on the first Saturday in May since 1929. The GII Louisiana Derby is also not a springboard to Kentucky Derby success, with only two horses in 128 years winning both races. Most daunting of all is trainer Steve Asmussen's 0-for-23 record in the Derby. Even if you're willing to dismiss that stat as aberrational because Asmussen has started so many no-hope longshots over the years, it's still a metric that demands respect–especially if the horse in question is the second favorite on the morning line.


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