04/24/2010 11:00PM

Jackson Bend closer to getting in Derby

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Two-time Derby winner Nick Zito moved a step closer to getting two horses into this year's race, with Eskendereya's defection bumping Jackson Bend one spot closer to the Derby starting gate.

Including the filly Devil May Care, who remains a possible Derby starter, Jackson Bend still sits at 21st in terms of graded stakes earnings, but even if trainer Todd Pletcher enters the filly in the Derby, Jackson Bend could make the race if the Pletcher-trained Interactif is not entered. Pletcher has called Interactif "doubtful" for the Derby, and Interactif did not post a workout this weekend.

"Jackson Bend certainly deserves to run. I say that with conviction because he was second twice to that great horse," said Zito, referring to Jackson Bends's runner-up finishes to Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial.

Jackson Bend galloped about 1 1/2 miles Sunday, but did so before the renovation break. Ice Box galloped close to the same distance just after the break along with the bulk of the Derby and Oaks hopefuls out to train this morning. Jackson Bend galloped in company with another Zito horse, staying inside his partner throughout the exercise.

"For some reason he likes a mate out there," said Zito, who said Jackson Bend had been galloping in company since the time Zito took over his training late last year in Florida.