05/14/2013 1:26PM

Calder: Gold happy to have Jackson Bend back in barn

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Laura Villasana/Coady Photography
Grade 1 winner Jackson Bend is back in trainer Stanley Gold's barn after a brief stint as a stallion and is targeting the June 8 Ponche Handicap at Calder.

MIAMI – Trainer Stanley Gold doesn’t know all the particulars regarding Jackson Bend’s mishap last summer at Saratoga, which led to his premature retirement in October, or what exactly transpired during his brief visit to the breeding shed, which ultimately resulted in the Grade 1 winner being put back into training this spring. And he’s not asking, either.

All Gold knows for sure is that Jackson Bend is back in his barn for a third time, and that he’s very happy to have his old friend back home again. Jackson Bend won five straight races, including all three legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes, as a 2-year-old for Gold in 2009 and finished second in the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream Park when sent back to Gold a second time by owners Fred Brei and Robert LaPenta during winter 2011.

Jackson Bend became a Grade 1 winner later that season for trainer Nick Zito, capturing the seven-furlong Forego at Saratoga.

On Aug. 18, Jackson Bend was run into by Little Nick on the Oklahoma training track during a routine gallop while preparing to defend his title in the Forego. Jackson Bend was knocked to the ground for five minutes but appeared to have only minor swelling on his left side after undergoing a thorough examination a short while later back at the barn.

Jackson Bend recovered quickly and was able to compete in the Forego, only to finish a distant seventh in what was the poorest performance of his 28-race career. Six weeks later, Jackson Bend was retired after it appeared he had not recovered mentally from the effects of the incident.

But after showing signs of discomfort in his back while test breeding at Journeyman Stud in Ocala, Fla., this winter, the decision was made to postpone Jackson Bend’s breeding career for another year.

“All I’d been doing was reading what was going on with him, and then all of a sudden I got a phone call a few weeks ago asking me to take him back in training again,” Gold said. “Naturally, I’m a little surprised to have him back. Like everyone else, I thought he was going to be a stallion. Sometimes there is no point going on with older horses who may have some value at stud because it costs so much to insure them and keep them running.

“But I guess once he began rehabbing at Jacks or Better [Farm], he started progressing and showing he wanted to do more, and ultimately it looked like he wanted to go back in training again.”

Gold said that thus far, he sees no real effects from last summer’s frightening collision at Saratoga.

“He acts just like he did when I had him last, a couple of years ago,” Gold said. “He’s all racehorse and full of himself. He’s eager to train and shows no signs of anything wrong physically.”

Jackson Bend breezed a half-mile in 47.82 seconds in company with stablemate Grande Shores here Sunday. It was his second official work since returning to Calder. Gold’s first objective for Jackson Bend will be the Ponche Handicap on June 8. If all goes well, he’ll be pointed to the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap four weeks later.

“He got his bell rung, and it took a while for him to get back mentally,” Gold said. “But right now, he acts like nothing ever happened, and we’re just excited and looking forward to being able to give him the opportunity to compete again.”

Jackson Bend is not the only locally based speedster with designs on the Smile Sprint. Trinniberg last year’s Eclipse champion male sprinter, a tiring seventh May 4 in the Churchill Downs Stakes, and Bahamian Squall, who recently returned to training following a brief freshening this winter, also are being pointed to the Smile Sprint. The race will share top billing on the Summit of Speed card here with the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap on July 6.

◗ Backseat Memories rallied from the rear of the pack turning for home for a three-quarter-length victory over the pacesetting Balino in Sunday’s Mambo Meister Stakes. Reporting Star finished third as the even-money favorite. The win was the second in a row for the improving Backseat Memories, who was claimed by trainer Humberto Toledo for $25,000 for owner Elena Arocha this winter at Gulfstream Park. He was ridden by Jose Delgado.

◗ The battle for leading jockey figures to be a good one this summer, with apprentice riders Jonathan Gonzales and Edgard Zayas tied atop the standings with 31 victories apiece entering Thursday’s program. Hugo Sanchez is best of the journeymen thus far but is still a distant third with 18 winners.

Kirk Ziadie, who has sent out a dozen winners from just 29 starters, sits atop the trainer standings, followed by Antonio Sano with eight wins.