08/07/2009 11:00PM

Homebreds shine in Stallion Stakes

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MIAMI - The Florida Stallion Stakes is all about helping the state's breeding industry and giving eligible 2-year-olds an opportunity to run for some substantial purse money if good enough. That made the results of the opening legs of the series all the more satisfying for state breeders when a couple of homebreds, Jackson Bend and Sweetlalabye, came out on top in the Saturday at Calder.

Jackson Bend showed both talent and heart to capture the six-furlong Dr. Fager, slipping up a small opening along the rail to post a hard-fought three-quarter-length victory over the pace-setting Mr. Green. Bim Bam rallied to finish third.

Jackson Bend is a son of Hear No Evil and Sexy Stockings, both of whom were campaigned by Jackson Bend's owner-breeder, Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm. Jackson Bend brought a two-race winning streak into the Dr. Fager that included a half-length triumph in the Frank Gomez Memorial four weeks earlier.

As expected, Mr. Green fired right out to the lead while pressed by Mr. Mike. The pair dueled through crisp early fractions of 22.48 seconds and 46.43 over a fast but cuppy racetrack. Mr. Green shook free in early stretch, but Jackson Bend, in perfect striking position while saving ground throughout, engaged the leader in late stretch before gradually forging to a narrow decision.

Jackson Bend covered the distance in 1:12.48 under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez and paid $4 as the favorite in a field of nine.

"That was a gritty performance," said trainer Stanley Gold. "He had to do it the hard way. We'd rather have been on the outside. Instead, we were lucky there was just enough room for him to get through and he showed a lot of grit and fortitude to get there."

As expected, Gold said Jackson Bend would point for the second leg of the series, the seven-furlong Affirmed on Aug. 29.

Sweetlalabye also rallied from just off the pace to a three-quarter-length decision over the slow-starting Joanie's Catch in the six-furlong Desert Vixen. Myakka City, the 4-5 favorite, set the pace but shortened stride badly through the final furlong and finished a tiring third.

Sweetlalabye ($8.80) is a daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint and Nancy's Gold. She was bred by her owners, Richard Ancona, Toni Ancona and Jacqueline Tortora, and trained by Manny Tortora. Final time for the Desert Vixen was a slow 1:13.72.

"It made all the difference that somebody went out early with the favorite," said Tortora in reference to Ocean Surge, who pressed Myakka City through a 21.66 opening quarter.

The victory was the second in three starts for Sweetlalabye, who came out of her only setback in the J J'sdream Stakes with a lung infection, according to Tortora.

Tortora said Sweetlalabye will await the middle leg of the filly division of the Stallion Stakes, the seven-furlong Susan's Girl on Aug. 29.