November 15, 2009

A Bend in the Derby Road

No, it is not too early to start talking about the 2010 Kentucky Derby. One of the things that I absolutely love about the sport of horse racing is the anticipation that it creates. There is always so much to look forward to, especially with a promising young horse. The possibility of what a horse may become, or a race that he may someday enter are limitless. There is no better race to anticipate and there is not a bigger race to dream about then the Kentucky Derby. We have five and a half months to follow, discuss, and conjecture upon the most recognized horse race in the world. The Bob Baffert trained Californian colt, Lookin at Lucky will soon be named the juvenile champion and is a deserving Winter Book favorite for the Run for the Roses. Today, I would like to showcase a horse who may not be on the radar of many, but should be. His name is Jackson Bend.

To date, Jackson Bend has won 5 of 6 starts and $477,820. All of his races were run at Calder and they were all for the Jacks or Better Farm. The win total should continue to grow, but he will no longer be carrying the purple silks of Fred Brei and Jacks or Better, as he sold a majority interest in Jackson Bend to Robert LaPenta for an undisclosed fee. LaPenta transferred the colt from original trainer Stanley Gold to Hall of Fame member, and trainer of two Kentucky Derby winners, Nick Zito. Don’t feel too bad for the original owners, they bred the colt at their farm in Ocala, Florida where they still own Jackson Bend's sire Hear No Evil and his dam Sexy Stockings. The LaPenta offer was just one of a half-dozen offers for Jackson Bend. How did this modestly bred colt, who had never left Calder before, garner this kind of attention?

Jackson Bend‘s latest win came in the $400,000 In Reality Division of Calder‘s Florida Stallion Stakes series for 2-year-olds. The In Reality victory completed a three race sweep for Jackson Bend and was his fifth consecutive score. It was a remarkable win for such a young horse. He stumbled badly out of the starting gate, dropping to his knees. Jackson Bend athletically gathered himself up and quickly put himself in a stalking position of the 1 1/16 mile race. He made what appeared to be a decisive move on the winning turn, until another horse came flying up to him on the outside. Showing his class and finishing ability, Jackson Bend easily was able to repulse the challenge from Thank U Philippe down the lane, and was going away at the finish to a 2 ¾ length score. This type of powerful finish is nothing new for the Florida bred colt.

He began his career with a fast closing second in a Maiden Special Weight in May and since then, it has been perfection. The first time I saw Jackson Bend was his third career start in the Frank Gomez Memorial. I really was not expecting too much from this lightly raced field of Florida based juveniles. What I did see was two excellent young horses and a thrilling finish. D’Funnybone, who went on to become the dominant two-year-old in New York, spurted clear in the stretch and the race seemed as good as over. Even as near to the wire as one hundred yards away, I would not have given a plugged nickel for the chance of any horse to run down D’Funnybone, yet that is exactly what happened. In a raw display of heart and will, Jackson Bend dug deep, found multiple higher gears to shift into, and swooped right buy the talented speedster. I was surprised and I was impressed. Jackson Bend has since confirmed what I saw that day and now sits squarely near the top of my list of early Derby favorites.

There you have it, Jackson Bend is one horse we need to keep an eye on. Let the road to Louisville begin…Does anyone want to talk Derby with me?


ja.raymond said...

What girls would you like to see in the Derby this yr, Brian?

Brock Sheridan said...

That's what I call stepping out. Giving us a Derby horse to watch 5-1/2 mos. out.

Brian Zipse said...

Jane, Unfortunately I have not seen as much promise in the juvenile fillies as I did this time last year, things can change quickly though...I'll keep looking.

Brock, Why not? It is never to early to start this most entertaining conversation...who do you like my friend?

The Turk said...

I agree Brian, I enjoy watching the contenders rise up at this time of the year. As a horseplayer though I avoid betting on 2 YOs. As a horse racing fan I love seeing the juveniles. The dichotomy of our game I reckon.

I like whoever looks the best the second week in April with their dirt form.

Good stuff.

joani said...

I've been keen on D'Funnybone yet, remember watching the Reality in awe of what Jackson Bend managed to overcome. It was one of those days I was glad to have been recording. I watched it over and over. I had the feeling I got when Curlin caught my attention...that "gotta watch this one" kind. It's a validation that you're putting yourself out there with him. Groovy!
Now I feel confident that if I miss something, you're the 'go to' guy!

CJ said...

You're not the only one who thinks Jackson Bend is something special. He's 35/1 in Vegas as of 5 days ago.

Cindy Levenick said...

I found a great Twitter page that is following the juvenile male division: It posts future odds, BRIS figs, and comments on races all over the country. Very good resource.

LDP said...

I love JB, he is one of my favorites. He and LaL are my two favorites right now, so for now, Brian, you and me are in agreement, lol.

Anonymous said...

Florida has turned out some great two year olds lately. Big City Man, Big Drama and Vineyard Haven to name a few.

The big three legendary trainers are stacked. Baffert- Looking At Lucky, Lukas- Dublin, Zito- Jackson Bend. Kentucky Derby 2010 here we come.