The Undfeated Jackie’s Warrior Leads The Charge
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Ren Carothers
The TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile crowns the Future Stars Friday card with a full field of 14 and one “Also Eligible” making the program. Getting top billing is a colt who has yet to go the 1-1/16th distance, but one who has already proven worthy of making the grade: Jackie’s Warrior.
He is undefeated in four lifetime starts, debuting in June at Churchill Downs under Ricardo Santana, Jr. for trainer Steve Asmussen (who has also entered Calibrate), and owners Kirk and Judy Robison. Since then, he has strung together three stakes-winning performances with Joel Rosario, first in the Saratoga Special (G2), followed by G1 glory in the Hopeful, and then, at Belmont, the Champagne Stakes, beating Chad Brown’s Reinvestment Risk for the second time. With each start, he has proven all-the-more dominant, prevailing in the latest by 5-1/2 lengths, clocking in 1:35.42 for the mile. He looked to be at total ease, and, yet, what appeared such a facile victory has landed Jackie’s Warrior at the top of the Beyer Leaderboard for two-year-olds, as he notched a 100.
This kind of eye-popping precociousness should come as no surprise, as Jackie’s Warrior is by Maclean’s Music, who is himself a son of Distorted Humor and out of Forest Music, a multiple graded-stakes winning daughter of 1995’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ, Unbridled’s Song. Asmussen trained Forest Music, in addition to Maclean’s Music. He debuted at three and only raced once, but made that lone start count, notching a record-setting 114 Beyer, and has gone on to sire progeny ready to jet from the onset. As for Jackie’s mom, her name is Unicorn Girl, and she made $483,508 over the course of her career the hard way, picking up 19 wins in 54 starts, 7 seconds and 8 thirds. This blue-collar belle is a daughter of A.P. Five Hundred and though he only crossed the wire a winner once, he put in showdough finishes in the 2002 Super Derby (G2) and Oklahoma Derby (G3). What is of key interest is not the race record, but the pedigree Jackie’s Warrior’s damsire brings to the table, though. A.P. Five Hundred, as you might guess, is a son of 1992’s Classic champion and Hall of Famer, A.P. Indy, and a daughter of Danzig named Banner Dancer, a ½ sister to 1987’s Distaff winner and Eclipse champion three-year-old filly, Sacahuista.
While Jackie’s Warrior looms the heavy favorite, two other “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series winners are also lining up to see if distance will be the great equalizer. Essential Quality, a Brad Cox trainee who got his ticket stamped at Keeneland in the 1-1/16th miles G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, comes armed with impressive pedigree credentials. The son of Tapit is out of the Elusive Quality mare, Delightful Quality, who is a ½ sister to 2005’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles/Eclipse champion two-year-old filly, Folklore. Furthermore, the family includes G1 winner Come Dancing, who recently won the Honorable Miss (G2), and Folkore’s “grandson” Contrail, who followed up a laureled two-year-old season in 2019 by capturing this year’s Triple Crown in Japan.
Sittin On Go is one of two entries for trainer Dale Romans and Albaugh Family Stables, and is two-fortwo after scoring the G3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, a race this team has won before with Dennis’ Moment (2019) and Not This Time (2016). While Dennis’ Moment lost all chance out of the gate in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Not This Time, who also had a rough going, came within a neck of Classic Empire in the 2016 edition. The year prior, Sittin on Go’s sire, Brody’s Cause, also campaigned by Romans and the Albaughs, came in off winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity to rally for third behind Nyquist and Swipe in the Juvenile. He went on at three to win the Blue Grass. Sittin On Go’s dam, Set’N On Ready is a stakes placed daughter of More Than Ready, whose progeny have won more Breeders’ Cup races than any other sire, with Uni (GB) bringing that tally to seven with her triumph in the Mile. He was also represented as a broodmare sire in 2019, with Structor, out of a full sister to 2010 Juvenile Turf Fillies champ More Than Real, winning the Juvenile Turf. The colt’s second dam, Laughingly, is a daughter of 2000’s Cartier Horse of the Year, Giant’s Causeway (2nd 2000 Classic), which is important to point out, as sire Brody’s Cause is a son of Giant’s Causeway himself. Laughingly is a ½ sister to Lucayan Prince, a champion sprinter in England and Ireland, as well as a ½ to 1998’s Louisiana Derby winner Comic Strip.
Another colt who has earned his way into the Breeders’ Cup, not by Challenge Series, but by his connections’ faith in ability after a dazzling debut, is Classier for Bob Baffert, SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm, and Robert Masterson. It was just on October 24th, that this son of Empire Maker (by 1990’s Kentucky Derby/Classic champ Unbridled) debuted at Santa Anita, scoring by 4 lengths without a care under Abel Cedillo. What made the effort all the more noteworthy is that the race was only 6.5 furlongs and this son of a Belmont champion is also out of another stamina influence in 2006’s Eclipse champion three-year-old male, Bernardini (2nd 2006 Classic), by A.P. Indy. The colt’s 2nd dam is by 1985’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and champion grass horse, Cozzene, and the female family itself includes another Breeders’ Cup champion in Desert Stormer, who defied her 14-1 odds, wiring the boys in the 1995 Sprint.
Could Classier spring an upset in the Juvenile off just one start? Crazier things have happened.
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