Robert LaPenta and Fred Brei’s Jackson Bend rallied from seventh early to win the Forego Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga by 3 ¼ lengths. The Florida-bred son of Hear No Evil covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.08, leaving runner-up Jersey Town and third-place finisher Aikenite in his wake (VIDEO).
Sidney's Candy, the 5-2 favorite, was on the pace early but faded in the lane and finished eighth. Hamazing Destiny set a contested pace for a half-mile with :22.09 and :44.45 opening splits while being pressed by Sidney’s Candy.
Jackson Bend, with Corey Nakatani up, was content to race in seventh while along the rail. He came off the inside on the turn, then ran between rivals and got to the lead by ahead at the eighth pole. He drew clear with a final eighth of :12.88.
Jackson Bend paid $8.90, $4.80, and $3.10. Jersey Town returned $6 and $3.80 and Aikenite paid $4 to show. The 1-4 exacta paid $46.
Jackson Bend, trained by Nick Zito, had struggled earlier in the year but got it all together at Saratoga. He prepped for the Forego with an impressive 2 ½-length win the seven-furlong James Marvin Stakes July 22.
Out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings, Jackson Bend was bred by Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm. He has now has a 7-5-2 mark from 20 starts and has earned $1,062,450.
“I knew what was underneath me,” Nakatani said. “Last time, I was able to figure him out a little bit. He can be tactical. I just let him get in that high-cruising speed. When I called on him and needed to get into position at about the three-eighths pole, he was there. Turning for him, I angled down, then I angled back out and he exploded. Once I set him down and got him running, it was a matter of how far he was going to win.”
Last year Jackson Bend ran second in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) before running 12th behind Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He rallied to run a solid second behind champion Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). At 2 he won five straight including the three-race Florida Stallion Series stakes of the Dr. Fager, Affirmed, and In Reality Stakes while racing for Fred Brei.
“It’s emotional,” said LaPenta. “He’s such a great horse and he’s had such bad luck. He always tries, every time. He’s like the little guy that could do it all, no matter how big they are, he sneaks through. (As a 3-year-old) he just ran into one monster after the other. You just felt so bad for him, because he tries so hard, he’s like a good thing in life, you know? He’s small, he’s undersized, and he has such incredible heart that it just makes up for everything.”
“To win the Forego today is special,” said Zito. “I was a great fan of Forego. What can you say when you win a race like this? It’s so prestigious. I told Bob (LaPenta) and his family, ‘You know what you did today? You won one of the best races you could possibly win!’”
“He’s a great little horse. He’s not big, and you’ve got to give him all the credit in the world. I want to salute our partners, Fred Brei and (former trainer) Stanley Gold, because Stanley had him as a 2-year-old and I respect the job he did with the horse. It’s great to be a part of Jackson Bend.
“He didn’t get away good but he made up for it and it worked out perfectly for him,” Zito continued. “We all got excited [on the turn]. Tom Durkin’s call was right on the money, he said ‘Jackson Bend’s starting to run!’ and we all got excited.
“When I came over here today I had so many fans wishing me luck today, from the grandstand all the way to the paddock. I got a really good feeling. I thank them for rooting. I think I had what they call in football the 12th man. I had a 12th man today.”