Jackson Bend slipped through an opening along the rail at the top of the stretch en route to his first win since October 2009 in the $78,000 James Marvin Stakes (VIDEO) on opening day at Saratoga July 22.
The 4-year-old son of Hear No Evil broke a 12-race losing streak when scoring the seven-furlong James Marvin by 2 1/2 lengths in a stellar time of 1:20.91, which was just two-fifths of a second off the track record that had stood since 1978. Best known for finishing second in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and third in the Preakness (gr. I) in 2009, Jackson Bend collected his fifth stakes victory under Corey Nakatani.
Nick Zito trained the chestnut colt for breeder/co-owner Jacks or Better Farm. Bred in Florida, he is also co-owned by Robert LaPenta.
The James Marvin, which drew a field of 11 but went to post with eight after the scratches of Gayego, Jersey Town, and Ravalo, set up perfectly for Jackson Bend after a speed duel developed between longshot Escrow Kid, D' Funnybone, and Hamazing Destiny. Escrow Kid, with Jeremy Rose aboard, held a narrow lead on his two rivals through opening fractions of :22.49 and :44.57.
Escrow Kid still kept his advantage coming off the turn and Hamazing Destiny was going on too, but Jackson Bend, who had saved ground all the way, found room along the inside and overpowered both of them at the top of the stretch. He pulled clear inside the sixteenth pole for the decisive win at odds of 8-1.
Hamazing Destiny and Robby Albarado held off 33-1 Escrow Kid by a half-length for second. Here Comes Ben was fourth.
"I couldn’t have designed a better trip," Nakatani said. "I was wanting to gauge what they were doing outside and just track them. When I asked him the question turning for home, he shot through the rail like it was meant to happen, and I’m glad it did."
Jackson Bend, who was trained by Stanley Gold for his last four races in Florida, was third last out in the Memorial Day Handicap at Calder. His best effort this year came in the April 3 Skip Away (gr. III) when second at Gulfstream. This was his first sprint try since 2009.
That year, Jackson Bend won five consecutive races including a sweep of the Florida Stallion Series at Calder. He was runner-up in his first three starts as a sophomore—the Holy Bull (gr. III), Fountain of Youth (gr. II), and Wood Memorial before finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“I told Mr. LaPenta I wanted to back him up a little bit," Zito said. "He has so much guts, it’s unbelievable. He has so much heart. He came back to us and trained brilliantly, and as a 2-year-old he won a couple of sprint races. He’s a top horse, and I can’t be happier for the horse.
"We’ll either pick the Forego (gr. I, Sept. 3), which is seven-eighths of a mile, or something else. Bob wants to run in the Breeders’ Cup (Dirt) Mile (gr. I, Nov. 5).”
Jackson Bend improved to 6-5-2 from 19 starts and earnings of $902,450. He is out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings.
The winner paid $18.80, $7.10, and $6.10. The exacta (2-8) returned $111 and the trifecta (2-8-1) was worth $1,856.