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Epicenter pulls away to win Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds

NEW ORLEANS -- Favorite Epicenter took a big step toward the Kentucky Derby, surging past leader Zozos and Pioneer of Medina entering the stretch and pulling away to a 2 1/2-length victory Saturday in the $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

The Steve Asmussen-trained bay colt started the Grade 2 stakes race from the No. 6 post at even money and tucked in behind Zozos with Pioneer of Medina to his right as the horses ran within a half-length of each other around to the final turn.

Epicenter quickly charged forward and was clear down the stretch, following up his February win in the Risen Star for his second win in three starts this year.

Jockey Joel Rosario, who won last year's Louisiana Derby win aboard Hot Rod Charlie, guided Epicenter over 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.38 and paid $4, $2.80 and $2.40. Second in the Derby standings with 64 points coming, he earned 100 points toward the 148th Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Zozos returned $3.40 and $2.80 and earned 40 points. Pioneer of Medina was two lengths back and paid $5 to show.