06/11/2013 2:40PM

Calder: Smile Sprint still a possibility for Jackson Bend

Laura Villasana/Coady Photography
Jackson Bend remains under considieration for the July 6 Smile Sprint at Calder.

Jackson Bend finished fifth making his first start of the season in the Ponche Handicap at Calder last Saturday and came out of the race in good order, according to his trainer, Stanley Gold. He could run next in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on July 6. He would be joined in the field by his stablemate Fort Loudon, who returned to Gold’s barn to prepare for the Smile late last month.

Jackson Bend had not started since finishing far back in defense of his title in the Grade 1 Forego last summer at Saratoga. A two-time Grade 1 winner, Jackson Bend was briefly retired shortly thereafter, but returned to training with Gold earlier this spring after having his stallion career put on hold.

“He came out of the race 100 percent, went back to the track today and he was full of himself,” Gold said on Tuesday. “He’s never been fast out of the gate. He went wide around the turn, which wasn’t a good place to be on that track, and I think he needed the race in the Ponche. I was a little disappointed, although not surprised that he finished fifth, but he only got beat about three lengths and I’m looking forward to running him back next time.”

Whether next time will be in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint on July 6 remains to be determined.

“The decision to run him in the Smile has not been made right now and it’s not up to me, although I’d surely like to give him a chance in that race,” said Gold.

Jackson Bend is owned by Bob LaPenta and breeder Fred Brei, who has also sent his Fort Loudon back to Gold for the Smile. Fort Loudon upset Trinniberg here a year ago in the Carry Back when he was trained by Gold, before being shipped to Nick Zito at Saratoga, where he finished a close second last summer in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop. Fort Loudon has won once in eight subsequent starts, capturing the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship for Zito this past winter.

“He’s been back with me for a couple of weeks and is definitely going for the Smile, which probably enters into the decision of whether to run Jackson Bend in the race as well,” said Gold. “I breezed him an easy half-mile here on Monday just to give him something to do so he doesn’t get too high. He’s been running and he’s already dead fit. Naturally I’m delighted to have a really nice horse back in my barn again. Who wouldn’t be? I’m really looking forward to running him in the Smile.”

Gold was also proud of the way his Grande Shores performed in the Ponche, rallying from near the rear of the field to finish third, just 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Grande Shores had raced for an $8,000 claiming tag at Tampa Bay Downs during the winter.

“I wasn’t surprised that he ran so well and there’s a better horse yet to come with him,” said Gold. “He’s always been a runner. I thought he was the best and most talented one of the crop we had when he was a 2-year-old a few summers back. But he’s had a lot of problems. He got sick and almost died last year. He’s a grand-looking horse, definitely a sprinter. He’s built like a horse that’s been in the gym every day. I’m not sure where we’ll run him next, but it won’t be in the Smile.”