ELMONT, N.Y. – Jackie’s Warrior showed the form that made him the reigning Eclipse Award-winning Male Sprinter, surging to the front and powering clear to a five-length score in Friday’s Grade 2, $300,000 True North, a 6 1/2 furlong sprint for older horses on Belmont Park’s main track.
Jackie’s Warrior, owned by J. Kirk Robison and Judy Robison, hit the wire in a final time of 1:15.09. He improved to 3-for-3 in his 4-year-old year, adding to victories in the Grade 3 Count Fleet in April at Oaklawn Park and the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day May 7.
Jockey Joel Rosario, aboard for all but the first of Jackie’s Warrior’s 15 starts, sent his charge to the front from post 3. The 1-5 favorite dueled Mr Phil as the early speed, putting his head in front with the opening quarter-mile in 22.83 seconds on the fast track.
Jackie’s Warrior opened up the lead from there, clocking the half in 45.52 and three-quarters in 1:08.68. The Maclean’s Music colt thundered for home in the stretch, kicking away from runner-up Sound Money, who bested War Tocsin by seven lengths for runner-up honors. Baby Yoda, Mr Phil and Night Time completed the order of finish.
Hall of Fame trainer and all-time winningest conditioner Steve Asmussen entered 2022 looking to map a plan to potentially give Jackie’s Warrior another opportunity in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November following a sixth-place finish last year in that contest at Del Mar.
That marked the only time in Jackie’s Warrior’s now 15 career starts that he did not finish on the board and closed a 2021 that otherwise featured scores in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial and Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course and the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill.
Asmussen said before thinking about the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in five months, a return engagement at the Spa is likely, with the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 30 and the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego on August 27 potentially on tap.
“He’s a very fast horse that has a tremendous amount of poise and confidence about himself,” said Asmussen, who won his second True North and first since Anew in 2006. “How he’s handling races and all three of his runs this year, he’s eased up late [with] good separation from them.
“He exudes confidence in the mornings and knows what he’s doing, he enjoys it,” Asmussen added. “I loved him in the post parade, just walked as far as they wanted and as soon as they started off, he just gave it a little play like ‘Let’s do this.’ He broke nice and smooth, very relaxed. The separation he gets without being asked is beautiful. He’s so rhythmic watching him run.”
Bred in Kentucky by J & J Stables, Jackie’s Warrior returned $2.50 on a $2 win wager. The multi-millionaire improved his career earnings to $2.47 million
“It took a little time to get him going, but he was just doing his thing after that. He’s a special horse,” said Rosario, who has logged a 10-1-1 record in 14 starts aboard Jackie’s Warrior. “I just sat and let him do his thing and he’s unbelievable. He means everything. So many great memories. He’s a special horse. He’s very smart and fast and he’s on my list as one of the top horses [I’ve ridden].”
Sound Money did not make his stakes debut until his 10th career start but has now posted back-to-back runner-up finishes against graded stakes company for trainer Chad Brown, following his effort in the Grade 3 Westchester last month at Belmont with another black type effort under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
“My horse ran great,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “He kept trying and trying, but the other horse never came back. He’s a nice horse.”
Live racing resumes Saturday at Belmont Park with a 13-race Belmont Stakes Day card boasting eight Grade 1 events, highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. First post is 11:20 a.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
By Brian Bohl
Photo of Jackie’s Warrior by