04/22/2010 12:00AM

Jackson Bend brightens up gray morning

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Thursday was truly the calm before the storm when it comes to tracking this year's Kentucky Derby workouts.

The calm refers to the fact that only one potential Derby runner, Jackson Bend, turned in a recorded work on a gray, chilly morning at Churchill Downs. The storm alludes not only to the large number of Derby starters expected to work over the next several mornings but the heavy showers that are forecast throughout the Louisville area on Friday and Saturday. Those storms have the potential to wreak havoc with everybody's training schedules here this weekend.

Jackson Bend (five furlongs in 59.94 seconds): At this point, Jackson Bend, the Fountain of Youth and Wood runner-up, will need some help just to crack the top 20 on the graded earnings list and make it into the Derby lineup. But if he does, he should again be expected to give his top effort after turning in another bullet work on Thursday.

Going in company with stablemate Thomas Got Even, Jackson Bend was a little rank under exercise rider Carlos Correa as he broke off at the half-mile pole, but quickly settled into what for him is a very comfortable pace, going his opening three furlongs in 34.51 without need of urging. At the sixteenth pole, Jackson Bend began to edge away from his overmatched mate, completing a half-mile to the wire in 47.04 under some mild encouragement. Correa did give him one crack of the whip entering the clubhouse turn but was already beginning to ease up Jackson Bend by the time they completed five-eighths in 59.94 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.39.

Both Jackson Bend and the Derby-bound Ice Box are owned by Robert LaPenta.

"We'll see what happens, but I think there's a good chance he'll get in," trainer Nick Zito said of Jackson Bend. "If not, we'll go on to the Preakness. The only real saving grace is that Bob also has Ice Box and at least will have a chance to run the other horse in the Derby."

"If it was a different owner who lost the chance to run in the Derby, like Mary Lou [Whitney], Len [Riggio] or any of my other owners, I'd feel awful. I'd be devastated."

Derby favorite Eskendereya appeared a bit more focused and purposeful Thursday morning than during his first visit to this track on Wednesday although anybody expecting to be "wowed" during his morning gallops will probably be in for a disappointment. A couple of Eskendereya's stablemates, Super Saver and Mission Impazible, have certainly looked sharper and been flashier in recent mornings.

Super Saver was the only Derby contender to train prior to the break and he was really on the muscle when breaking off to begin his gallop, going at better than a two-minute clip for nearly a quarter of a mile before coming to hand and leveling off into a very relaxed gait.

Mission Impazible put in a very strong, energetic gallop and looked especially sharp cruising down the center of the track through the stretch on Thursday.

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