BALTIMORE — On Friday morning it was one last trip around Old Hilltop for the favorite, Epicenter, before the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes.
"[He] schooled at the gates, galloped about a mile-and-a-quarter, jogged home. Seems nice and relaxed," said trainer Steve Asmussen.
The oddsmakers’ pick to win on Saturday could have been going for a triple crown threat if not for long shot Rich Strike upsetting him in the Kentucky Derby. Could the Preakness be a redemption race for Asmussen’s horse?
"I don’t know if he needs any redemption. He’s just a highly competitive horse that has maintained a very good level. There is plenty of respect out there for him."
Rich Strike is not running on Saturday. His team opted out for the betterment of the horse. Asmussen said it isn’t about who won’t be in the field of nine. It’s about who will be - every entrant.
"I think Rich Strike in the Derby, his unexpected victory, brings to light how you need to respect who is here and who does show up and how they perform on that day."
There is one unknown that Epicenter will have to deal with tomorrow. It’s something everybody will be dealing with tomorrow - the weather.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90’s.
"This will be the first 90 degree day that Epicenter has experienced. So, we are concerned with it but expect him to handle it," said Asmussen.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90's for the #Preakness.— Shawn Stepner (@StepnerWMAR) May 20, 2022
Favorite Epicenter has never run in temps that high.
Interesting quote from trainer Steve Asmussen this morning, who tells me:
"We're concerned with it but expect him to handle it." pic.twitter.com/79WCU3mfhE
He added that until post time at 6:50 p.m. he’ll make sure Epicenter gets multiple baths on Saturday, keeps cool and hydrated.