05/28/2011 12:49PM

Calder: Jackson Bend returns to favorite venue for Memorial Day Handicap


MIAMI – With the turf experiment over, at least for the time being, Jackson Bend returns to his favorite track for the first time in 19 months on Monday in Calder’s $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap.

Jackson Bend is one of two horses trainer Stanley Gold has entered in the 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day, along with Hear Ye Hear Ye, who shoulders co-high weight of 120 pounds along with defending champion Mambo Meister. The Memorial Day lost its Grade 3 status this year.

MEMORIAL DAY RACING: Stakes schedule, contender replays, and news updates

Jackson Bend was the toast of the town as a 2-year-old in 2009 while with Gold, winning 5 of 6 starts over Calder’s main track, including all three legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes. Afterwards, owner Fred Brei sold a controlling interest in his homebred to Robert LaPenta. Jackson Bend was subsequently turned over to trainer Nick Zito, for whom he became a prominent member of the 3-year-old division during the first half of 2010, finishing second in the Grade 3 Holy Bull, second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, and third in the Preakness.

But after going winless in eight starts at 3, Jackson Bend returned to his roots, rejoining Gold’s stable earlier this year. The Memorial Day will mark his fourth start of the season but his first over Calder’s main track since his victory in the 2009 In Realty. His best effort this year was a second-place finish behind S S Stone in Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Skip Away. Jackson Bend tried turf for the first time last month, finishing seventh in the Grade 3 Miami Mile after stumbling leaving the gate.

Hear Ye Hear Ye ran the race of his life three weeks ago when leading throughout to upset the Sumter overnight stakes by nearly six lengths. The victory was the first in six starts in 2011 for Hear Hear Ye, who, like Jackson Bend, is a son of Hear No Evil and was bred by Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm.

Mambo Meister has not won since dominating the 2010 Memorial Day by nearly eight lengths. Trainer Phil Gleaves gave the versatile Mambo Meister the winter off following his third-place finish in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap on Dec. 11, bringing the son of King Cugat back to finish an even sixth last month in the Miami Mile. Mambo Meister is also a horse for the local course, having registered six of his nine wins while finishing worse than third just once in a dozen starts over Calder’s main track.

Motovato, runner-up behind Finallymadeit in the 2009 Memorial Day, finished second as the 3-5 favorite going 6 1/2 furlongs under high-priced optional claiming conditions making his first start off a one-year layoff earlier this month. Motovato, winner of the Grade 3 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap in his 2009 finale, figures to force the early pace on Monday along with Star Player.

Completing the field are Bernie the Maestro and Dream Maestro, second and third behind Hear No Evil in the Sumter, the multiple stakes winner El Kingdom, and Where’s Sterling.

◗ Decisive Moment worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds, completing his final furlong in 12.03, and galloped out five-eighths in 101.60 here Saturday, his first work since finishing 14th for trainer Juan Arias in the Kentucky Derby. Decisive Moment was one of 131 horses who worked here Saturday.