07/18/2012 3:57PM

Saratoga: Jackson Bend targets repeat in James Marvin Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Jackson Bend wins the 2011 James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Jackson Bend served notice he’d be a force to be reckoned with in the sprint division a year ago with his rail-skimming, 2 1/2-length victory in the James Marvin Stakes. On Friday, Jackson Bend will attempt to defend his title and regain his standing as one of the country’s elite sprinters when topping a field of seven entered in the $100,000 James Marvin, a race elevated to Grade 3 status for the first time this summer.

Jackson Bend re-joined Zito’s barn last summer after spending the first half of the season in south Florida with trainer Stanley Gold. Zito decided to turn Jackson Bend back in distance for the James Marvin following a steady diet of longer races, and the plan worked to perfection. Jackson Bend slipped through along the rail, overtook the leaders in early stretch, and drew off to an easy victory in what proved to be a stepping-stone to an even more impressive 3 1/4-length triumph here six weeks later in the Grade 1 Forego.

Jackson Bend captured two of his first three starts in 2012, including his second Grade 1 – the seven-furlong Carter Handicap – but is coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap.

“Things just didn’t work out his way in the Met,” Zito said. “The fence was good that day, and he couldn’t get over. He tried to take it to them, and it just didn’t work out for him. This is the race that really got him started last year, he likes it up here, and you just hope he comes with his run, just like he did a year ago.”

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Jackson Bend will break from the extreme outside in the James Marvin, just as he did in the Metropolitan, and will be ridden for the first time by Rosie Napravnik.

While Zito would prefer to have Jackson Bend breaking inside in the James Marvin, trainer Todd Pletcher said he’d like to switch posts and have his Caixa Eletronica beginning outside rather than from the rail. Caixa Eletronica rallied from more than a dozen lengths off the pace to a three-quarter-length victory over Justin Phillip in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 9.

“He’s doing great, training well, it’s a competitive race, but we got the worst post,” Pletcher said. “In an ideal world, we’d rather have Jackson Bend’s post, but he’s versatile enough I think he can overcome it. I don’t anticipate we’ll be as far back as in his last start, but he’ll be back a little bit.”

Pacific Ocean, who tired badly after setting a brutally fast pace in the True North, figures to be in front again in the James Marvin. The True North was Pacific Ocean’s first start over dirt and his first since turning in a career-best performance winning Hollywood Park’s Grade 3 Vernon Underwood in his 2011 finale.

Crossbow chased the leaders, but failed to muster a late response when finishing fifth in his graded stakes debut in the True North. He has trained extremely well at Saratoga in preparation for the James Marvin.

Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Im sorry but Caixa Electronica's True North on the Belmont Stakes card was WAY too impressive to think he doesnt fire a huge one today. I give the nod to him, not Jackson Bend here.
Phil D More than 1 year ago
yeah i tend to agree Caixa Electronica is a little better than Jackson Bend. i think for 3rd or maybe 2nd, it maybe a stretch, is Scotus he always improves a race just after one type of surface to another, his last bayer is 89 so may get into 90's, hey 12 to 1, seen worse price horses at those odds, lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though JB and CE sort of stand out there's the lingering question about the small purse and how much either will be fully cranked? Ys, JB is defending a perfect record, I still have to believe both horses are targeting something more substantial beyond this race. For that reason, I am giving Pacific Ocean the chance to control the pace and hold off the two big faves in deep stretch. He's got a well-earned big beyer one back. He went 43 and 3 that day and came home in 24 and change, a huge effort. The next race bounce is predictable. As is a rebound tomorrow. I am using Scotus to fill out the super.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After a little more research, I have changed my opinion about Pacific Ocean. First of all, there are layoffs surrounding his last 2 races, which is counter to what I remembered. Plus, the 108 Beyer (Dutrow's first race with him), which I am not contesting, stands out like a sore thumb. Every other race in recent memory has him in the 80s, including the most recent flop (after the 108, and after a respite). Look, I am not going to make any accusations re: everybody's favorite whipping boy, but no matter how it's parsed we're still left with one freak race and the rest nowhere near this league. He could run back to that big one, but he'd have to do it with serious pace pressure and facing legit sprinters. That said, I think some of the other value horses could outrun their odds. I did a formulator check on the horses that Golddigger's Boy has been facing and it is interesting. They are far from household names, and it would be easy at-a-glance to dismiss his company because of that lack of familiarity, it turns out he's been facing some young, up and coming sprinters whose connections are a lot like Scotus' connections in that they are smitten with the long game, trying to stretch out their charges, who might be best suited to one-turn sprints. The company tha GB has kept the past 3 races is better than looks. Then there's Scotus, who is a lightly raced 4yo colt (12 starts) who is only 2 for 2 sprinting, going away in both. Admittedly, the competition in those is not great, but going back to my original theory, here's a colt that might not want all that distance they've been throwing at him. The win at Keenland going 7 panels is interesting because at that point it would appear he didn't care all that much for synthetics. The bettors certainly thought so. He beat nothing but he did it admirably and maybe on his "B" surface. He's coming directly out of a live race, albeit a route. If a Jackson Bend/GB exacta is paying $30 to $1, I can go for that.
Josh More than 1 year ago
Jackson Bend is a 7 furlong, saratoga specialist, Caixa Eletronica and Crossbow round out the top 3. http://handicrapper.blogspot.com/
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
I get so sick of whining over post positions particularly the rail. Jockeys should be planning winning strategies, not getting psyched out. Every post has challenges.
Vincent Towne More than 1 year ago
The Big Guy is walking around today like it's Xmas eve! He REALLY likes Saratoga...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wo is the "big guy" - Jackson Bend?
Rick Gatlin More than 1 year ago
Could that big the Cash Machine, Mr. Caixa?