Wicked Strong a Phenomenal Centennial Farms Experience
Wicked Strong a Phenomenal Centennial Farms Experience: After the heat of the Triple Crown wore off and the duel classic winner California Chrome was out of commission for the remainder of the summer, one horse started to emerge as the new to dog, winning the Jim Dandy and a hard fought second in the Travers Stakes. Yes, Wicked Strong is the new big dog on the scene.
After his grinding win in the Wood Memorial, he received good support in the Kentucky Derby. He would stumble out of the gate, get caught traffic in the stretch, and finish a closing fourth. Lady and The Track spoke with Centennial Farms president Donald Little Jr., and he was kind enough to interact with us about Wicked Strong. When commenting on Wicked Strong’s Kentucky Derby performance, he gave, “I thought he put in an exceptional performance.”
After chatting a bit about the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, where Wicked Strong finished in a dead heat for fourth, the Jim Dandy was mentioned. The Jim Dandy was the experimental race where trainer Jimmy Jerkens added blinkers for the first time. “It was very obvious after the Jim Dandy that the blinkers helped him considerably,” stated Little.
Wicked Strong really seems to be a new force on the racing scene, and his name is a perfect reference to himself as a horse. Donald Little Jr. finds Wicked Strong as the “ultimate athlete who thrives on competition.” The horse just keeps grinding away the races and the competition. In thirteen months, Wicked Strong has competed in twelve races. The owners, partners, and trainer want to focus on the horse. They take it race by race with Wicked Strong. Little commented that, “the neatest thing about this horse is that he really is living up to his name. He dances every dance. He’s tough, rugged, and he’s unbelievably strong.”
While Wicked Strong has danced every dance, and gutted out some amazing wins, he has also become Centennial’s leading money earner. Lady and the Track went so far as to ask how Wicked Strong ranked against past Centennial horses, such as Rubiano. Little sort of chuckled and began to describe Rubiano. “I would always say it’s tough to beat Rubiano because he was a true thriller. Almost every single race he won, he wins by a nose, and most of them, he won. He never lost one by a nose.” Wicked Strong could compare to Rubiano in that they both have, or had, a unique personality. Little seemed very fond of Rubiano, so he commented that Wicked Strong “would come in number two.” If anyone does not know who Rubiano was, he was a champion sprinter by the legendary Fappiano.
Wicked Strong is set to make his next, and likely last start of 2014, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, against older horses. Donald Little Jr. did comment about the competition likely to show up in the Gold Cup, and Tonalist is one of the likely competitors. Wicked Strong and Tonalist will meet for the fifth time. Some may say that these two have a bit of a rivalry going. While the rivalry will continue, Centennial’s President is thinking about the competition of the race. “I think that in this race, his biggest competition will be Will Take Charge.” Little did comment that Tonalist will be apart of that main competition, but ultimately, Will Take Charge is Wicked Strong’s main threat in the race.
Elaborating on the last start for Wicked Strong’s season will be the Jockey Club Gold Cup; Little did say that they were not aiming for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “Even if we win the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I think it would be unlikely that we go to the Breeders’ Cup this year.” The farm wants to do what is best for their current star. Donald Little Jr. doesn’t want the Breeders’ Cup Classic to be the race that is “one too many.” The connections are on focusing on their horse, and hoping to give him the remainder of the year on the farm, before sending him back to Jimmy Jerkens in Florida in January. “I think he is going to be a terrific four-year-old.” Little is hoping they can continue their dominance next spring.
After the interview over Wicked Strong, Donald Little discussed the closing of Suffolk Downs a bit. He did say, “It was a sad day,” referring to the announcement that Suffolk will close its doors on October 1st of this year.
Centennial Farms has had an amazing year with Wicked Strong and Little called it a “phenomenal experience.”
Wicked Strong is a strong individual who is likely to return next year, hopefully with the same dominance he has displayed this summer. Hopefully he can retain his fans, and even captivate new ones with every race.
The $1,000,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup takes place at Belmont park in Elmont, New York on Saturday, September 27, 2014 and is a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race.