In today’s uncertain economy, all but the wealthiest are feeling the pinch. Thoroughbred breeders are no exception, with many reducing or even suspending their operations in order to make ends meet. Yet hope still springs eternal even for those with less than bottomless pockets, and sometimes hope pays off.
Take Jackson Bend, who races as a homebred for Ocala-based Jacks or Better Farm. Like many another Florida-bred, he is by a relatively modest sire out of a mare whose credentials would probably not be considered fashionable enough to get her a place in the broodmare bands of most of the major Kentucky showplaces. But Florida-breds have long had a reputation for outrunning their pedigrees, and Jackson Bend seems to be one for whom the reputation is fact. The dark chestnut colt has now won five of his six starts, defeating impressive multiple grade II winner D’Funnybone along the way, and became the seventh male to sweep the three-race Florida Stallion Stakes series with his October 17 win in the In Reality Stakes.
Jackson Bend’s earnings now stand at $477,820, a nice sum indeed for a colt whose sire, Hear No Evil, commanded a $5,000 stud fee in the year that he was conceived. A Jacks or Better homebred, Hear No Evil has just 13 foals of racing age in his first crop, but it seems a safe bet that he will get better patronage in 2010. To date, he has been represented by seven starters, of which three have won. Hear No Evil will stand at Journeyman Stud in 2010 for an as yet unannounced fee.
$5,000 is more or less the unofficial going rate in the Florida market for a stallion that offers solid but not spectacular credentials, and Hear No Evil fit that category well when he stood his first season at Rising Hill Farm in 2006. A rather lightly-made, wiry son of the good sprinter and sire Carson City, Hear No Evil won four listed stakes races and placed in four grade III events during his racing career. His stakes wins were at distances ranging from 5.5 furlongs to nine furlongs and on both dirt and turf, and he was sound enough to make 37 starts over five seasons of racing.
Hear No Evil’s durability may seem somewhat surprising, given that his dam Nizy (by Cox’s Ridge) never raced. All of Nizy’s foals of racing age have started and won, however, including two other listed stakes winners in Home On the Ridge (by Homebuilder) and Ladyinareddress (by Tactical Advantage) and two stakes-placed runners. Her broodmare career appears to reflect the back class in her female line, beginning with her dam, Nizhanee. A daughter of Pago Pago, Nizhanee was a stakes winner at 3 and 4 and made 24 starts over three seasons. She was by far the best runner produced from unraced Winell (by Rising Market), whose dam, Doug’s Serenade (by Royal Serenade), was one of four stakes winners produced by the Whirlaway mare Rock Drill. While Doug’s Serenade was not in the same class as her half-sister Lady Pitt (by Sword Dancer), the champion 3-year-old filly of 1966, she did have enough talent to win the 1958 Princess Elizabeth Stakes and place in four other Canadian black-type events.
Although Sexy Stockings, the dam of Jackson Bend, made only seven starts, all at age 3 and all at Calder, she also has a pedigree that suggests basic soundness as a heritage. Another Jacks or Better homebred, she is by dual Classic winner Tabasco Cat, who showed more than adequate toughness for the modern era by making a dozen starts at 3. Her dam, Lottsa Talc, was hardy enough to make Tabasco Cat look frail; the best runner sired by Talc, who sired any number of honest, hard-knocking bread-and-butter horses, Lottsa Talc won 16 stakes races (and 21 races overall) during her 65-race career, including the 1996 Barbara Fritchie and Distaff Handicaps, both grade II events. Lottsa Talc came by her toughness quite honestly, for Talc won 17 of 54 starts, including the 1975 Chesapeake Handicap (gr. III) and Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT), while her dam Antilassa won four of 40 starts.
The best runner produced from Lottsa Talc to date, Sexy Stockings ended her career with two straight victories in maiden special weight and allowance company, respectively, before retiring to the paddocks. If her racing career ended prematurely, Jacks or Better Farm cannot be regretting the fact too much now, as the mare’s first foal, the Anasheed filly Garter Belt, is also a multiple stakes winner in 2009. Sexy Stockings’ third foal is a yearling colt by Black Mambo; she also has a 2009 colt by Awesome Again.
While Jackson Bend’s pedigree is not precisely regal, it is laden with one invaluable quality that sometimes seems overlooked in today’s market: soundness. At this point, he does not seem likely for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), but that may be all for the best as he continues to grow and mature. If the colt lives up to the best of his ancestry, he should be providing his connections with a lot of fun for some time to come.