Epicenter Applauded by Losing Travers Trainers

Those who could not win, saluted the one who did.

When the 153rd running of the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) was finished at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 27, the crowd of 49,672 was up as one, cheering the work of Epicenter .

Those who failed could only do the same.

“He is a very good horse,” trainer Brad Cox, who settled for second with Cyberknife , said as he stood just off the Spa’s winner’s circle. “Hats off to the winner. He is the leader of the division, obviously.”

“Give all the credit to Epicenter and his team,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Steve (trainer Asmussen) has done a really nice job with him. (Epicenter) has fired in all his races and was much the best.”

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Brown had come into the Midsummer Derby with the best Travers hand he’s ever had. He was certainly thinking about that as he made his way back to the clubhouse box he was sharing with his family. Down below, the Epicenter celebration raged on.

For Brown, there was disappointment as he watched his three horses come up short.

Jeff Drown’s Zandon was the best of the trio as he finished third, a nose behind Gold Square’s Cyberknife, who was 5 1/4 lengths behind Epicenter.

Juddmonte’s Artoriuswho was highly touted as a talented son of 2016 Travers winner Arrogate, checked in sixth, and Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner, was eased by Jose Ortiz in the stretch to be last of eight.

Going into Saturday’s race, Brown had started 12 horses in the Travers, with his best finish being a third with Miles D last August. If ever the native of nearby Mechanicville was going to break into the Travers win column, Saturday’s race felt like it could be it.

“Unfortunately, Early Voting stopped abruptly,” Brown said. “Jose said he thought the air went out of him around the half-mile pole. He really stopped, which is concerning. He came back sound, and we will look into him immediately.”

Artorius, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., was in striking position after a mile and simply “didn’t fire,” Brown said.

Zandon, who was second behind Epicenter in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga July 30, just missed second.

“He ran a credible race,” Brown said. “But he was not able to sustain any meaningful kick in the lane to get close to the winner. And, that is a wrap.”

Brown did not sit and brood over his current reality, however. He would be getting up before the sun the following day to go back to work.

“We had three of the eight horses in the race,” Brown said. “We had never had as many real live horses like these three. It’s extremely disappointing, and it just shows how hard it is to win this race. We have to move forward; that is horse racing. You’re going to lose more races than you win. No one has ever been able to beat that statistic.”

Earlier on Travers Day, the Brown barn won the $388,000 Ballston Spa Stakes (G2T) with Technical Analysis and also took the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1) with Jack Christopher . In addition, his trainee Search Results was second in the $558,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1).

But the one race he wanted to win most, the one race he has always wanted to win at Saratoga, remains unclaimed.

“It just wasn’t their day,” Brown said of his Travers horses. “I have to get back to work and evaluate the horses individually and come up with plans moving forward for each of them. Life goes on. I have not won (the Travers), but we will never stop trying.”

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