Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who has won
three Wood Memorials, is hoping a compact bay son of Hear No Evil will bring
him a fourth tomorrow as Jackson Bend
takes on Fountain of Youth winner Eskendereya, Gotham winner Awesome Act and
three others in the 86th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 race at
Jackson Bend, whom Zito calls “Mighty Mite,” has finished
first or second in all eight of his career starts, including a second to
Eskendereya in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on February 20.
“His greatest strength is that he is so consistent,” said
Zito. “With that in mind, that’s what you have to hope for, that
some day, those big horses don’t show up and he stays consistent.
That’s what happens in sports, too; sometimes, the best team
doesn’t always win, but the most consistent does. Consistent makes you
Zito, who saddled Thirty Six Red to win the 1990 Wood, Adonis to win
the 1999 edition and Bellamy Road
to win in 2005, also saddled Go for Gin to finish second in 1994. Go for Gin was
the second of two Derby
winners for Zito; his Strike the Gold won in 1991.
“Jackson Bend has to do well with these horses,” said Zito.
“He has to qualify and he has to get money.
“He’s a very courageous horse,” he added. “They
all talk about how small he is, but he’s filling out and starting to
develop. Everything he does is beautiful right now. As long as he can develop,
I can see him doing terrific things in racing.”
* * *
Come Triple Crown season, trainers looking for a jockey with a magic
touch start thinking about Calvin Borel. With Derby wins on Street Sense in 2007 and last
year with Mine That Bird, Borel has shown he can get the job done with
favorites as well as long shots.
After Jackson Bend finished second in the Fountain of Youth on February
20, trainer Nick Zito called Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam and said he and
co-owner Robert LaPenta would like Borel to ride the son of Hear No Evil in the
Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial this Saturday.
Now Borel, who has two other Triple Crown contenders in Super Saver and
Northern Giant, heads into the Wood aboard the 4-1 second choice.
“I thought the Fountain of Youth was one of the most impressive
preps,” Hissam said of Jackson Bend’s most recent race against Eskendereya.
“They want a ride that Calvin is known for — not way back, but to
try to get him to finish.
“I’m not leaning in any direction at the moment,”
Hissam said of his potential Derby
mounts. “Jackson Bend has to run 1-2 Saturday.”
Borel, whose lone graded win at Aqueduct came in 1988 on Darby’s
Daughter in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo, will ride three horses before the Wood
including Hurricane Ike in the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore.
As for hooking up with Zito, Hissam said Borel has only had “a
horse or two” with the trainer, but the rider’s reputation carries
a lot of weight.
“That’s what two Derbies will do for you,” Hissam
* * *
James McIngvale is a racehorse owner who doesn’t mind taking
As owner of Gallery Furniture, one of the top furniture retailers in
the country, McIngvale, 59, is known as “Mattress Mack,” renowned
in the Houston
area for his rapid-fire TV sales pitches. Early on, when the company was
struggling, he put the last $10,000 he had into an ad starring himself, and it
Last year, McIngvale, on the suggestion of his wife, brought live
monkeys into one of his showrooms, and they were an instant hit with customers.
He also caused a stir when he offered to put up $2 million for a showdown
between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta at Sam Houston
McIngvale, whose company once sponsored the Kentucky Derby prep race
now called the Lanes End Stakes, is bringing that kind of moxie to Aqueduct on
Saturday with his 3-year-old chestnut colt Carnivore,
a 20-1 long shot in the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial.
A $280,000 sales purchase by top sire Giant’s Causeway out of the
six-time stakes-winning mare Biogio’s Rose (an Aqueduct inner track
terror in her day), Carnivore broke out for a seven-length maiden win March 10
at Laurel Park in his third start.
While nowhere near as accomplished as morning-line favorite
Eskendereya, the Fountain of Youth winner, or Gotham hero Awesome Act,
Carnivore has a string of five straight bullet works at the Fair Hill Training Center
and McIngvale’s unbridled optimism in his favor.
“I liked the comment Todd Pletcher made, that he would let the
3-year-olds tell him where to go,” McIngvale said. “[Carnivore]
looks great, feels great — what the heck, let’s give it a shot.
When I first got involved in horse racing, I went to the Kentucky Derby that
Canonero II won. I’ve always wanted to race at the highest level. I hope
we’re not afraid to take a shot with these horses, and I hope we’re
not taking too big a shot with this horse.”
McIngvale, an owner since 1992, has taken many shots before but never
had a Triple Crown starter. The closest he came was in 2004 when his Bob
Baffert-trained Wimbledon won the Louisiana
McIngvale said he “was leaving the house for the airplane to Louisville when Bob called” and told him Wimbledon had aggravated a front tendon and would miss
the Kentucky Derby.
That same year, McIngvale ran a horse named Consecrate in the Wood and
finished ninth behind winner Tapit.
For the past several years, McIngvale has been aligned with Joseph
DeLozier III, a former top steeplechase jockey now training horses at Fair Hill
DeLozier consults regularly with McInvale’s sister-in-law, Laura Wohlers,
a former trainer on the Southern California circuit now managing
McIngvale’s racing operation out of Houston.
McIngvale didn’t know DeLozier until the trainer called him out
of the blue one day and asked if he could help him pick out some horses at a
sale at Timonium.
“I liked his aggressiveness,” McIngvale said. “He
cold-called me like a stockbroker.”
McIngvale hopes Carnivore shows the same kind of aggression in the
“This horse is so ambitious,” he said. “He starts
knocking down the walls if you don’t take him out on the track.”
* * *
Owner Ike Thrash found a good luck charm in naming horses after family
members, particularly his wife, Dawn.
Dawn after Dawn, who won the Grade 2 La Canada, Dawn Before Dawn and Third
Dawn all became stakes winners. Dave in Dixie,
one of the favorites Saturday in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby, is named for
Thrash’s son-in-law. Stakes winner Emmy Darling was named after a
So everyone, Thrash says, assumes he named his tough 3-year-old
sprinter Hurricane Ike, 7-2 third
choice in the morning line for the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay
Shore, for himself. Not true. He named it for the hurricane of the
same name that pounded Texas and Louisiana in 2008.
“Everyone thinks I named him after myself,” said Thrash,
who operates Dawn Properties, which builds, buys and sells apartment complexes.
“We had an apartment complex in Galveston.
When Hurricane Ike came through, it destroyed everything right around our
apartment complex and to us did practically no damage. We had three shingles
and two fireplaces knocked off and that was it. It absolutely destroyed the
(building) behind us.”
Thrash hopes Hurricane Ike — the horse — can avoid trouble,
too, and get back on the winning track after losing five straight races
following a debut win. Two of those losses came in major stakes races to Lookin
At Lucky, who runs 1-2 in most polls with Eskendereya as favorite to win the
Lookin At Lucky made the transition from the Santa Anita Pro-Ride
surface to dirt without problem, and Thrash is eager to see if his colt can do
the same in the Bay Shore. The only opponent
in the race he truly fears is Eightyfiveinafifty, who broke his maiden by 17¼
lengths while earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.
“The one horse looks like kind of a freak,” Thrash said,
“but I think we fit real well in there.”