Epicenter Connections Reloading for the New Year

With recently crowned champion 3-year-old Epicenter (Not This Time) off to begin his career at stud at Ashford, the team behind the popular GI Runhappy Travers S. winner have some highly regarded reinforcements on the way.

Disarm (c, 3, Gun Runner–Easy Tap, by Tapit), off since earning his ‘TDN Rising Star’ badge in runaway fashion at second asking on the Whitney undercard at Saratoga last summer, could return versus allowance company at Oaklawn later this month.

The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, previously highlighted in our ‘Second Chances’ series following a smart debut third behind subsequent GIII Sanford S. winner Mo Strike (Uncle Mo) at Churchill Downs last June, has posted five workouts at Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s Fair Grounds base since early January, including a five-furlong bullet in 1:01 (1/7) Feb. 7.

Disarm’s maiden win was further flattered by last weekend’s GIII Holy Bull S. winner Rocket Can (Into Mischief), who was a distant fifth on debut at the Spa that day.

“He went a little off behind,” said David Fiske, longtime advisor to the Winchell family. “It was diagnosed as a sesamoid problem, so he just took some time off. It took a little longer than what we expected. He’s been working well at the Fair Grounds. He actually worked with (MGISW) Clairiere (Curlin) the other day. He’s on the verge of a comeback.”

What have the reports been like coming out of New Orleans so far?

“He worked with Clairiere (Tuesday),” Fiske reiterated with a big laugh. “I think he’s been doing really well.”

Disarm–one of seven ‘Rising Stars’ for his record-setting 2021 freshman sire Gun Runner–is a half-brother to Venezuelan champion stayer Tap Daddy (Scat Daddy), who was also a stakes winner and graded-stakes placed on these shores.

The Gun Runner over Tapit cross, two of the best to ever carry the maroon-and-white Winchell silks, is already off to a flying start via GI Cotillion S. heroine Society and MGSW and GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint third Wicked Halo.

Fellow ‘Rising Star’ and $1.35-million Keeneland September graduate Extra Anejo (c, 3, Into Mischief–Superioritycomplex {Ire}, by Hard Spun), meanwhile, is currently in light training with Asmussen at Fair Grounds.

The bay was made the individual favorite in the first GI Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool last fall after debuting with a jaw-dropping 9 1/2-length debut victory with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure at Keeneland Oct. 13. He missed the remainder of his juvenile season after having surgery to remove a bone chip from a hind ankle.

“He’s been jogging a considerable number of miles at the Fair Grounds for about the last month and is doing great,” Fiske said. “He’s due to have a reassessment this weekend, and if Dr. (Larry) Bramlage likes all the ultrasounds and X-rays and everything, then hopefully we get a green light to resume serious training.”

He continued, “The race that he ran at Keeneland was super impressive–impressive enough to be the favorite in the first future pool. We’ll see if he comes back as good as he was. Every indication is that he is. So, we’ll just have to see.”

One of 36 ‘Rising Stars’ for leading sire Into Mischief, Extra Anejo hails from the extended female family of the brilliant champion grass mare Islington (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells). He was bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm, LLC and Orrin H. Ingram.

In addition to the aforementioned highly promising 3-year-old duo, there is plenty more to look forward to for these connections in 2022.

Red Route One (Gun Runner) will continue down the GI Kentucky Derby trail following a second-place finish in the GIII Southwest S.; GISW Gunite (Gun Runner) is on target for the $1.5-million G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint on the Saudi Cup undercard; and GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint second and third-place finishers champion Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) and Wicked Halo (Gun Runner) are currently back in training for their 4-year-old seasons.

“I told Steve (Asmussen) the other day, it’s almost like we’re putting the band back together,” Fiske concluded. “Bunch of talented horses and hopefully we can make some noise with them this year.”

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