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Wicked Strong to stay at Belmont until Derby Week

Wicked Strong was tired, but otherwise fine Sunday morning (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens was still basking this morning in the glow of Wicked Strong's emphatic victory over previously undefeated Samraat and Social Inclusion in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial.

The win gave Wicked Strong 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, ensuring him a spot in the starting gate for the May 3 race, but Jerkens said he and the colt's owner, Centennial Farms, hadn't made any firm plans for a trip to Louisville.

"We don't really know anything yet; we haven't talked but I am sure we will this afternoon or tonight or tomorrow," said Jerkens, whose father, Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, won the 1992 Wood with Devil His Due.

"It's kind of early. I don't really organize horses' training right down to the minute. I like to have a little bit of a plan, but I don't want to be stuck to something if I see something I don't like. Thinking off the top of my head, I hear there's a plane leaving the Monday before the Derby; we'd probably want to do that. He'd do the majority of his training here at Belmont Park."

Jerkens said Wicked Strong looked good, albeit a little tired, this morning. The Hard Spun colt ran the 1 1/8-mile Wood in 1:49.31, the fastest since Bellamy Road's record 1:47.16 in 2005.

"He was a little tired, which is understandable," said Jerkens, adding that Wicked Strong's schedule calls for him to walk for two days, then gallop, then walk again. "Usually, he's hogging the hotwalker. He walked around like a regular horse this morning."

Wicked Strong, named in recognition of the heroes and victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombing, is one of a number of graded stakes winners trained by Jerkens and his father for the Massachusetts-based Centennial Farms.

Among those trained by the elder Jerkens are 1985 Alcibiades romper Silent Account; Aptostar, who scored her signature win in the 1988 Acorn; Topicount, victorious in the 1988 Rare Perfume; and With a Twist, winner of the 1988 Rare Treat. Jerkens, who assisted his father for many years before going out on his own, won the Metropolitan Handicap, the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and the Gulfstream Park Handicap for Centennial in 2007 with Corinthian.

"With Centennial you always have a chance to get a good one, that's for sure," Jerkens said. "They've been very loyal. We did very good with Corinthian; we needed this to happen."

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