As a two-year old Jackson Bend swept the Florida Stallion Series at Calder. After winning the 1 1/16 mile Florida Stallion In Reality, trainer Nick Zito and owner Robert LaPenta placed their talented colt on the Kentucky Derby trail. The speedy Hear No Evil colt reeled off three straight place efforts before finishing 12th, about twelve lengths behind winner Super Saver, in the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Zito continued to place Jackson Bend in route races after his Derby effort, but it would take nearly two years and a cutback in distance before Jackson Bend would again find the winner’s circle.
It had been two years since Jackson Bend had been entered in a sprint, but the 7 furlong James Marvin was just the ticket to get the chestnut colt back in the winner’s circle. A month and a half and another sprint later and Jackson Bend was a Grade 1 winner. Since his Forego victory, he has finished second in the G2 Kelso behind the brilliant Uncle Mo and third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint behind Amazombie and Force Freeze. Despite just missing getting up in time in the BC Sprint and a win at a mile and a sixteenth, it is clear that Jackson Bend is a sprinter through and through. That is why I find the G3 Hal’s Hope Stakes such an interesting choice for the newly minted 5-year old son of Hear No Evil.
Jackson Bend has been tried at a mile four previous times, but the closest he has come to winning at the distance was a three-quarter length loss to Winslow Homer in the 2010 edition of the G3 Holy Bull. It is clear that a mile is not his best distance, but he has a very good chance of making it work for him this Saturday when he faces a field of eight other contenders in the one mile Hal’s Hope Stakes. Two entrants will make his task difficult, however. Among his competition is G3 winner Successful Mission who relishes the mile distance and defending Hal’s Hope Stakes winner Soaring Empire. Successful Mission, a dark bay gelded son of Successful Appeal, will enter the starting gate on Saturday off of a two race win streak and a 47% win rate. Of his eight wins, three have come at a mile with a fourth win at a mile and seventy yards. Soaring Empire (Empire Maker—Flying Passage, by A. P. Indy) is the only other graded stakes winner in the field and has a 40% win rate at Gulfstream Park. The dark bay son of Empire Maker can sprint or route and will be one to watch.
1.Jackson Bend—5/H—J. Velazquez—N. Zito
2.Sky Venture—5/G—J. Leyva—C. Paul
3.Sangaree—7/H—R. Maragh—K. McLaughlin
4.Successful Mission—6/G—E. Trujillo—E. Plesa, Jr.
5.Decisive Moment—4/C—S. Madrid—J. Arias
6.Our Dark Knight—5/H—J. Bravo—N. Zito
7.Soaring Empire—5/H—J. Leparoux—C. Gambolati
8.Cool Blue Red Hot—4/C—M. Cruz—A. Penna, Jr.
9.Will’s Wildcat—4/G—C. Borel—J. Baker
Jackson Bend has been putting in some excellent works since returning to the worktab following his third place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The task at hand will not be easy, but he should be well up to it. Look for him to run a big race and add a Grade 3 to his résumé.