ELMONT, N.Y. – J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior kept an unblemished record intact, establishing an early lead while shaking off a challenge from Reinvestment Risk to win Saturday’s 149th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Champagne going one mile for juveniles over the main track at Belmont Park.
The 2-year-old son of Maclean’s Music improved to a perfect 4-for-4, including two Grade 1 triumphs along with the Runhappy Hopeful on September 7 at Saratoga. He earned an automatic entry into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 6 at Keeneland from his victory in the Champagne, which is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event.
Within a few strides out of the gate, Jackie’s Warrior was able to secure his usual frontrunning position under jockey Joel Rosario and recorded the opening quarter-mile in 23.12 seconds over the fast main track with Runhappy Hopeful runner-up Reinvestment Risk in second and stablemate Midnight Bourbon another path to the outside in third.
Around the turn, through a half-mile in 46.54, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. launched his bid aboard Reinvestment Risk, and came close to being on even terms with Jackie’s Warrior. Just outside the quarter-pole, Rosario nudged his charge a couple of times and that was all it took to get Jackie’s Warrior to extend his advantage.
Jackie’s Warrior opened up by three lengths in the stretch and was geared down just past the sixteenth pole, crossing the wire a 5 ½-length winner in a final time of 1:35.42. Reinvestment Risk finished 8 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Midnight Bourbon.
Civil War, Run Casper Run, and Ambivalent rounded out the order of finish.
“He’s a beautiful horse; a big horse, and it looks like everything he does is easy for him,” Rosario said. “I was very confident that he could get the mile. I felt confident the whole way. He just enjoyed what he was doing.”
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Jackie’s Warrior, who returned $3.70 for a $2 win bet as the favorite, banked $137,500 in victory which enhanced his lifetime earnings to $402,564.
Prior to his pair of Grade 1 scores, he was a 2 ½-length winner on debut on June 19 at Churchill Downs before taking the Grade 2 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite on August 7 by three lengths.
“He had an easy half-mile and I’m surprised he came home that quick. He’s very impressive,” said Asmussen’s Belmont Park-based assistant Toby Sheets. “He’s a class act and does everything correct. The one-turn mile certainly didn’t seem to bother him.”
The Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will be Jackie’s Warrior first two-turn engagement, which Rosario said should be no problem for the unbeaten juvenile.
“I tried to get him away from there quickly and get position. I think the further he goes the better. He seemed to do it very easy today and I was very confident in him,” Rosario said. “I wanted to be a little out in front, so he had confidence, and it looked like he liked that. I let him do whatever he wanted to do. He breaks two lengths in front of everyone and not all horses can do that. He’s amazing.”
Bred in Kentucky by J & J Stables, Jackie’s Warrior is out of the A.P. Five Hundred mare Unicorn Girl. He was purchased for $95,000 from the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Champagne Stakes Replay
Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont Park with a 10-race card highlighted by the 130th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Futurity, a six-furlong turf sprint offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 6 at Keeneland. It is one of two turf stakes for juveniles on the 10-race card, with the Grade 3, $100,000 Matron for 2-year-old fillies going six furlongs also on the docket. First post is 12:50 p.m.
BELMONT Entries Sunday, October 11
Photo: Jackie’s Warrior. Credit: NYRA/Coglianese