10/16/2009 11:00PM

Jackson Bend overcomes bad start

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Jim Lisa
Jackson Bend overcame a poor start to win Saturday's In Reality Stakes and sweep the open division of the Florida Stallion series.

MIAMI - Jackson Bend proved he is not only one of the top 2-year-old prospects in the country but that he can overcome adversity as well, picking himself up after stumbling badly leaving the starting gate to register a 2 3/4-length victory over Thank U Philippe in Saturday's $400,000

at Calder.

By winning the In Reality, Jackson Bend became the seventh 2-year-old to sweep the open division of the Florida Stallion series.

Jackson Bend, a son of Hear No Evil, is owned by his breeder Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm. He was ridden to victory by Jeffrey Sanchez for trainer Stanley Gold.

Things certainly did not begin auspiciously for Jackson Bend after the once-beaten colt stumbled, nearly went to his knees, and then was bumped by Wave by Me after leaving the starting gate for the 1 1/16-mile In Reality. Once recovering, Jackson Bend moved to a striking position while racing three-wide down the backstretch, gained a slim advantage midway around the second turn, then dug in gamely to withstand a strong challenge from Thank U Philippe through midstretch before edging well clear.

Thank U Philippe raced well-placed off the early leaders, took a run at Jackson Bend upon entering the stretch but proved no match while taking a bit of an erratic path near the end. Bim Bam finished five lengths farther back in third.

Jackson Bend, the only horse to have defeated leading Breeders' Cup Juvenile prospect D' Funnybone, completed the distance in 1:46.86 over a deep and cuppy track and paid $3.60 for his fifth straight victory.

"First I was scared he might have hurt himself when he stumbled at the start and then I thought it might cost us the race," said Gold. "But he overcame it and really showed how tough he is. He doesn't quit. He has a lot of heart and a lot of stamina. I wasn't concerned about him going the distance even though he'd never been two turns before."

Gold said he has had no discussions with Brei regarding Jackson Bend's immediate future but pretty much ruled out a trip to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in three weeks.

"We haven't talked about it but I'm not a big fan of those artificial surfaces," said Gold. "Especially since a lot of the others in the race will have a big home track advantage and we'd be at a distinct disadvantage if we were to go."

Mambo Meister much the best

Mambo Meister ($7.80) earned himself a guaranteed berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile with a decisive 3 3/4-length victory over even-money favorite Motovato in the Grade 3, $100,000 .

Mambo Meister benefitted from a perfectly judged ride by Manoel Cruz and Motovato's misfortune at the break. Mambo Meister rated off the early pace set by Pechito, rallied four wide when set down into the stretch before readily drawing off to an easy win. Motovato broke last and was pinched back after leaving the gate, moved to within striking position between horses on the final bend but proved no match for the winner. Pechito outlasted the others to be third.

Mambo Meister, a versatile son of King Cugat, is trained by Phil Gleaves for the Quantum Racing Team No. 1.

"Like many horses who run well on turf, I think he could do well on a synthetic surface," said Gleaves. "We'll probably start talking about the Breeders' Cup over dinner tonight."

Sal the Barber gets up

Sal the Barber ($3) outfinished Grand Cash from between horses in the final sixteenth of a mile to register a half- length triumph in the $100,000 .

Livingston Street finished a neck farther back in third.

Sal the Barber, a son of Alphabet Soup, gave trainer Christophe Clement back-to-back victories in the Grade 3 Calder Derby. Clement won the race a year ago with Sporting Art. Eddie Castro rode the winner, who completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.41 over a firm course.

Sal the Barber, runner-up in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes this summer at Saratoga, stalked a relatively slow early pace, split rivals while challenging through midstretch, and had the best kick at the end. Grand Cash, last of the nine 3-year-olds during the opening six furlongs, moved to close contention leaving the furlong grounds but could not stay with the winner in the final 40 yards.

* Criolla Bonita ($13.60) gave Luis Duco the first victory of his training career when he rallied to an easy four-length decision over Lavender's Spirit in the $75,000 Cassidy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Sweet Like Sugar, the 2-1 favorite, finished third.

Criolla Bonita is owned by Duco's wife, Shirley.