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Wicked Strong Wins Dandy

Credit, Joe Bianchino

“A change will do you good,” Sheryl Crow once said.  And for one Kentucky bred, the country singer could not be more right.

With blinkers on for the first time in his career, Wicked Strong kicked away from the rest on Saturday to win the Jim Dandy – rejecting a bid from Christophe Clement’s favored, Belmont winning Tonalist in the process.

“It might be my imagination, but he always seemed to be running with his head cocked to the outside in his other races.  I didn’t really notice that today.  I thought he ran straight and true today,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said of the horse who finally doubled up on the promise he showed winning the Wood Memorial in the spring. Who, finally, did what his connections hoped he’d do. “I know the talent’s there,” Jerkens said.  ”It’s just getting him to put it all together.

Which he did in a big way on Saturday.

With the addition of the blinkers, Wicked Strong broke well and steadily made his way up to the lead.  He finally took it at the top of the far turn, and never gave it up – blasting away from Legend, who had lead much of the race, and the aforementioned favorite at the quarter pole.

“Tonalist made a bold move, and I thought ‘it’s going to be a good horse race.’ But from there Wicked Strong just dug in and found extra and pulled away at the end.” Jockey Rajiv Maragh said.

There will be questions about the efforts of the colt’s competition on Saturday.  Tonalist broke slowly and showed none of the aggression he was expected to, and Linda Rice’s Kid Cruz ran an erratic race – hustling up to take the lead early, then dropping to last before running on for third.

Regardless, Maragh isn’t worried about the future – which almost certainly includes a run in late August’s Grade I Travers.

“He’s just getting warmed up.”

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