Robert LaPenta and Fred Brei’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) hopeful Jackson Bend was aboard a flight from Churchill Downs along with many of the other hopefuls for the May 16 race that was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore the afternoon of May 12.
Before departing, the son of Hear No Evil breezed four furlongs in :46 3/5, which was the best of 69 at that distance May 10.
“Did you see that work?” said Nick Zito in a release, sounding more like a proud papa than the colt’s conditioner. Jackson Bend has been a notoriously fast worker, cranking out a bullet effort at Palm Meadows in late March.
The colt fired another bullet work nine days before the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, a sloppy track and some traffic problems left Jackson Bend with his first off-the-board finish (12th) in 10 career starts.
Zito missed out on the Preakness party last year for the first time since 2003, but he is reunited with Hall of Fame colleagues Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert thanks to the consistent resume of Jackson Bend, who is a multiple stakes winner and graded-stakes placed.
Jackson Bend will be the 20th starter in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown for Zito, who won this race with Louis Quatorze in 1996 and narrowly missed with A P Valentine (2001) and Go for Gin (1994).
Mike Smith, who won the 1993 Preakness with the ill-fated Prairie Bayou, has the mount. This will be his first Preakness mount for Zito.
Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Preakness runners, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Super Saver and The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (gr. III) runner-up Aikenite , also left Churchill Downs the morning of May 12 before being loaded onto the Baltimore-bound plane that carried the bulk of the 12-horse field for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“They’re on their way,” Pletcher said in a release. “They went out for a real light gallop this morning and are headed this way.”