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Jackson Bend Back on the Beam

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito started his season off in a big way Friday at Saratoga Race Course, saddling Jackson Bend to an upset victory in the $75,000 James Marvin, the first of two stakes on opening day of the 143rd meet.

The 4-year-old colt, winless since taking five straight at Calder in 2009, tracked longshot Escrow Kid through opening fractions of 22.49 and 44.57, then charged through an opening on the rail in the stretch to outkick Hamazing Destiny to the wire for the 2 ½-length victory.

"When I asked him the question turning for home, he shot through the rail like it was meant to happen," said winning jockey Corey Nakatani, "and I'm glad he did."

In his first start at under a mile in nearly two years, Jackson Bend completed the seven furlongs in a swift 1:20.91.

"He has so much guts it's unbelievable," said Zito, who trains the Hear No Evil colt for Robert LaPenta. "He has so much heart. He came back to us [from Florida in May] and trained brilliantly, and as a 2-year-old he won a couple of sprint races. He's a top horse, and I couldn't be happier for the horse."

Jackson Bend, who was second to Eskendereya in the 2010 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and third, beaten less than a length, by Lookin At Lucky in the 2010 Preakness, extended his record to 6-5-2 from 19 career starts. Most recently, he was third as the beaten favorite in the Memorial Day Handicap at Calder while in the care of Stanley Gold.

Sent off at 8-1, Jackson Bend returned $18.80 for a $2 win bet and earned $45,000.

Zito said the next target for Jackson Bend could be the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga on September 5 as he points towards a berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November.

"We'll either pick the Forego, which is seven-eighths, or something else," said Zito.



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