11/07/2013 4:23PM

Gulfstream Park: Jackson Bend makes rare route try

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Tom Keyser
Jackson Bend goes 1 1/16 miles in the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Jackson Bend and Souper Speedy, best known for their prowess at seven furlongs, will attempt to stretch their speed around two turns for the first time in recent memory when they vie for favoritism in the 1 1/16-mile Sunshine Millions Classic Preview.

The $150,000 Classic Preview will share top billing with the $150,000 Distaff Preview on Saturday’s inaugural Sunshine Millions Preview card at Gulfstream Park. The nine-race program includes eight stakes restricted to Florida-breds, all but the juvenile events serving as preps for Sunshine Millions Day here Jan. 18.

Saturday’s program will also feature an appearance by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, who’ll parade in the walking ring prior to the Classic Preview.

Both Jackson Bend and Souper Speedy are coming out of the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park. Jackson Bend finished seventh after being hung wide against the grain of the track bias in the one-mile Kelso. Souper Speedy checked home a tiring fourth after pressing the pace of race winner Graydar through midstretch.

[SUNSHINE MILLIONS PREVIEW: Get PPs, watch full card live]

Jackson Bend, who completed a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes at 2 with his victory in the 1 1/16-mile In Reality, has not started around two turns since finishing third in Calder’s Memorial Day Handicap in May 2011. A two-time Grade 1 winner, Jackson Bend is winless in six starts this season. He finished second, beaten a half-length by Strapping Groom, in the Grade 1 Forego going seven furlongs at Saratoga.

“I don’t think two turns will be a problem, even though seven furlongs is really his thing,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “I’m just tossing out his last start. He threw his head at the break, broke last, and ended up on the outside where he doesn’t like to be.”

Gold said while Jackson Bend was at his best on the lead going two turns earlier in his career, he believes he can rate off the pace in the Classic Preview. Jeffrey Sanchez will ride him.

“He can definitely go long if you get him to relax, and from his outside post I believe he’ll settle and can be placed wherever Jeffrey wants to put him,” Gold said.

Gold said he intends to run Jackson Bend next in the seven-furlong Sunshine State here Dec. 8.

“But he’s jumping out of his skin and needs to do something, so we’ll try him at a mile and one-sixteenth again and hope for the best,” he said.

Souper Speedy has been around two turns just once, finishing second after setting a pressured pace two years ago in the Grade 2 Remsen. Souper Speedy won the Jaipur Stakes late this spring on the disqualification of stablemate Big Screen.

“We’ve been looking to stretch him out for a while, but he’s been running so well at seven furlongs, it was hard to make any changes,” said Tom Albertrani who trains the homebred Souper Speedy for Live Oak Plantation. “Coming off short races, I expect him to be close up, if not on the lead, on Saturday.”

Souper Speedy figures to get plenty of early pressure from Sr. Quisqueyano, one of only two 3-year olds in the Classic Preview along with Joshua’s Comprise. Sr. Quisqueyano led throughout to win the Eight Miles East and Quality Road stakes, both at nine furlongs, earlier this season for trainer Luis Olivares.

Mordi’s Miracle, second making his local bow Oct. 5, would benefit from a hotly contested pace, as would Cash Rules, who is cross-entered on Saturday in the Turf Preview. Recent allowance winner Red Hills completes the field.

Only five fillies and mares were entered for the Distaff Preview, including three from the barn of trainer Bill Kaplan: Deamlicious, Putitinmypocket, and Putyourdreamsaway. They’ll be decided outsiders behind the odds-on My Pal Chrisy and Awesome Belle.

My Pal Chrisy has been an easy winner of both her starts since being purchased privately and transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson’s barn this summer.

Awesome Belle, a stakes winner on turf and dirt, is cross-entered in the Filly and Mare Turf but is expected to go in the Distaff, said Gold, who trains her.

“I’ve been wanting to try dirt with her for a while, and the five-horse field is tempting, although I’m leaving our options open,” said Gold. “They probably did us a favor even running the race with this short of a field, so it would be nice to show my appreciation by staying in the race.”