A troubled start and twice altering course in the stretch couldn't stop Jackson Bend from claiming victory in the $100,000 Hal's Hope S. (G3) Jan. 14 at Gulfstream Park. The 4-year-old son of Hear No Evil was making his first start since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in early November.
Things didn't look to rosy at the start of the one mile Hal's Hope, with Jackson Bend bobbling somewhat and shuffling back to seventh for the run down the backstretch. John Velazquez, who was aboard for the first time, began to inch forward around the turn, going around a few tiring rivals, but then got stuck behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch. Velazquez had to shift out several paths, but found clear sailing to get to the wire a one-length winner.
"I've been watching replays of his races," said Velazquez. "He didn't really stumble, but he didn't break that well. I was sort of biding my time around the turn. I didn't know if I should go inside or outside. But then I took the easy way out and said, 'I'll just take him outside.' It worked great."
"I'm going to suggest to (owner) Mr. (Robert) LaPenta that we keep him in races up to a mile. That's what he's happy doing," winning trainer Nick Zito said. "I'd like to take a shot at the Met Mile (G1), [at Belmont Park in May], with him. I've been second in it a couple times. We'll probably run him here one more time."
With the $60,000 payday, Jackson Bend has now bankrolled $1,310,950; he is the all-time leading earner for his sire.
Jackson Bend was bred in Florida by Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm Inc. Out of Sexy Stockings, Jackson Bend is a half-brother to two-time stakes winner Garter Belt.
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