Epicenter rolled to front-running score in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds, stamping himself as one of the early favorites for this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1).
A 3-year-old son of Not This Time, Epicenter is one of five colts on the 2022 Derby trail for his sire. He earned 60 points on the Road to the Derby challenge, putting him atop that list.
After just getting nosed out in the Jan. 22 Lecomte S. (G3) over this same surface, Epicenter made amends with an excellent performance on Saturday. Breaking from post five, he was in the lead in just a few strides. Under patient handling from Joel Rosario, Epicenter held a one-length lead through the first six furlongs, which went in 1:12.25.
At the top of the stretch, Epicenter found a new gear and drew away from the field. With Rosario hand-riding his mount, Epicenter was geared down late to win by 2 ¾-lengths in a very good 1:49.03 for the 1 1/8-miles on a fast track.
“A little different than his last race in that every quarter was perfect,” owner Ron Winchell said. “He looked nice and comfortable we were just hoping he would finish off the race and he did. He looked great.”
Epicenter has now won three of his five starts and earned $410,639, with next month’s Louisiana Derby (G2) on the horizon. The bay colt was bred in Kentucky by Westwind Farms and sold to his owner for $260,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling sale.
Epicenter is the fifth graded winner and one of 17 black-type scorers for Not This Time, who topped the 2021 Second-Crop Sire list $5.4 million in progeny earnings and is the early leader on this year’s Third-Crop list, with more than $1.2 million to date.