10/31/2011 3:01PM

Zito calls audible, puts Jackson Bend in Breeders' Cup Sprint


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Last Wednesday, Jackson Bend and The Factor were pre-entered in both the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the Dirt Mile as their connections mulled over which race they felt was the best fit for their horses.

When entries were made and post positions assigned on Monday, Jackson Bend and The Factor went their separate ways with trainer Nick Zito opting to enter Jackson Bend in the $1.5 million Sprint and Bob Baffert deciding to put The Factor in the $1 million Dirt Mile. Each race went with nine horses.

Jackson Bend, who has not run at six furlongs since August of his 2-year-old season, drew post 5 and was made the 7-2 second choice in the race behind Big Drama, the defending BC Sprint winner and champion sprinter.

Meanwhile, The Factor, who has never run at a flat-mile, was one of nine horses entered in the Dirt Mile. The Factor drew the rail – one of four Breeders’ Cup races in which a Baffert-trained horse drew post 1 – and was made the 7-2 second choice behind Trappe Shot (3-1).

Zito had been targeting the Dirt Mile for Jackson Bend since he won the Grade 1 Forego at seven furlongs at Saratoga in September. As a prep, Zito ran Jackson Bend in the one-mile Kelso on Oct. 1 at Belmont, where he finished second to Uncle Mo.

But at pre-entry time, Zito gave himself and owners Bob LaPenta and Fred Brei the option of considering the Sprint as well. In the end, Zito said there were several reasons to run in the Sprint including the depth of the Mile field, the probability of a faster early pace in the Sprint, and the likelihood that a victory in the Sprint could earn Jackson Bend an Eclipse Award.

“That Mile race is a very, very, very tough race,” Zito said. “He is a good sprinter. I think the pace is a big factor. The horse acts like a champion – everybody calls him a little champ with the big heart he’s got – why not officially make him a champion.’’

In order to win the Sprint, Jackson Bend is going to have defeat Big Drama, who won the Sprint last year over the Churchill strip. On Monday, Big Drama completed his preparations for the Sprint by working four furlongs in 49.32 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form . He got his final quarter in 24.21 seconds under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez.

Big Drama has only raced twice this year, winning the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream in January and the Whippleton overnight stakes at Calder in September.

“Big Drama’s fit coming out of Calder,” trainer David Fawkes said. “I just wanted to get some air into him; Jeffrey chirped him to him at the quarter pole then had to take a hold of him to keep him from going too fast.’’

Fawkes will also send out Apriority in the Sprint. Following the renovation break, Apriority worked four furlongs in 50.26 seconds, getting his final quarter in 24.54 seconds under Sanchez.

Euroears, who won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar in July before finishing last in the Grade 1 Vosburgh with a troubled trip, drew the rail and was installed the 4-1 third choice. Others entered in the Sprint included Vosburgh 1-2 finishers Giant Ryan and Force Freeze, Ancient Title winner Amazombie, Aikenite, and Hamazing Destiny, runner-up in last year’s Sprint.

There were 16 horses pre-entered for the Dirt Mile, but the race ended up with only nine, as seven opted for other races. Baffert, who trains Euroears, felt The Factor was a better fit for the Dirt Mile because he doesn’t have to be rushed off his feet

“I think he’s more of a miler,’’ said Baffert, who will also run Irrefutable in the Dirt Mile. “He’s got natural speed and he gets stronger as he goes along.”

On Monday, at Santa Anita, The Factor blazed six furlongs in 1:10.40 over the main track. The Factor was due to ship to Kentucky on Tuesday.

The Factor was one of five 3-year-olds entered in the Dirt Mile. The others were Preakness winner Shackleford, King’s Bishop winner Caleb’s Posse, Indiana Derby winner Wilburn, and Tapizar, who came back off an eight-month layoff to win a stakes-caliber allowance race at Belmont on Oct. 8.

On Monday, Wilburn worked four furlongs in 49.88 seconds while Tapizar went the same distance in 49.53 seconds. Steve Asmussen trains both horses.

“I felt Wilburn, coming off a very good Indiana Derby, has had nice moves over the track here. I very much like where he’s at,” said Asmussen, who added that Tapziar, coming off one race in eight months, is “a very fresh horse coming in here for this time of year and training very well.”

Though Trappe Shot has never tried a mile, he was made the 3-1 favorite in the race. Jersey Town won last year’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile, making him the only member of this field to have won a one-turn mile race. Caleb’s Posse, who won the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, is the only other horse in the Dirt Mile field to have won at a mile.

Trainer Todd Pletcher had pre-entered four in the Dirt Mile, but will not have a starter in the race. Uncle Mo went in the Classic, Aikenite the Sprint, and Sidney’s Candy the Mile. Rule, his other pre-entrant, was not entered in the Dirt Mile because of a bruised hind left foot, Pletcher said.

–additional reporting by Mike Welsch

Sprint, Post Time: 2:37 ET Saturday

Purse: $1,500,000; 6 furlongs; gr. I





ML Odds



Bob Baffert

Rafael Bejarano



Giant Ryan

Bisnath Parboo

Cornelio Velasquez




Todd Pletcher

Javier Castellano



Hamazing Destiny

D. Wayne Lukas

Robbie Albarado



Jackson Bend

Nick Zito

Corey Nakatani



Force Freeze

Peter Walder

John Velazquez




William Spawr

Mike Smith



Big Drama

David Fawkes

Ramon Dominguez




David Fawkes

Joel Rosario