He's tiny. He's like Mac on "Mike Tyson's Punch Out." He's Jackson Bend and he's trained by Nick Zito.
Most recently Jackson Bend finished second to Eskendereya in the Wood Memorial, nine long lengths back. But hasn't the Wood taught us that impressive wins mean next to nothing? Bellamy Road stands out like a sore hock from his 2005 17-length triumph. That resulted in a no-show after early involvement in the pace scenario four weeks later in Kentucky. Thank you Spanish Chestnut.
Last year I Want Revenge looked like a birthing foal springing loose from a seam to win the Wood. He went on to injure his ankle and catalyze a nasty owner's dispute. It's always sunny at International Equine Acquisitions and Holdings (Sounds like a good sitcom. Mike Iavarone could be played by Gilbert Godfrey, Richard Sciavo by Tom Selleck, Stardom Bound could be played by Boxer from Animal Farm, and Big Brown could be played by Macaulay Culkin.)
Tale of Ekati ran down 2007 Champion Juvenile War Pass in the 2008 renewal and was a dud. Barclay Tagg's Nobiz Like Showbiz won the 2007 edition and consequently ran afoul in Kentucky.
You have to go back 11 years to Fusaichi Pegasus to find a Wood Memorial winner that had the cajones to win the roses.
Funny Cide finished runner up to Empire Maker in the 2003 Wood then went on to geld a number of three year olds in Kentucky. And this is Jackson Bend's hope. Empire Maker went on to be the favorite in the Derby only to lose to Funny Cide. Eskendereya will be the favorite in two weekends and it could be that another Wood Memorial runner up could steal it away.
Given the way the weather can turn Churchill's dirt into a dirty diaper, a small colt like Jackson Bend could skip over the top of that surface. Didn't Mine That Bird do just that? And hasn't Jackson Bend proven to be far better than Mine That Bird now, let alone at this time last year?
If Jackson Bend retains Calvin Borel, he'll get a ground-saving trip. That much you can count on.
And Nick Zito has finished second in the Wood and found a recipe for success in Kentucky: four weeks rest, a stud jockey, and maybe, just maybe, a little luck. Go For Gin and Chris McCarron. Sixteen years ago.
Jackson Bend is the horse I want to go out drinking with. He's rough around the edges, drinks Jack on the rocks, will spring to his hooves to back you in a brawl. He's Rocky Balboa with a better education. He'd treat your daughter with respect and buy you a John Deere tractor for Father's Day. He'll send flowers to your mother and pay the toll for the car behind him.
I'll be rooting for him, Borel, and Zito. Hey, I've gotta, that's two-of-three main characters from the hot and unpublished piece of work titled "Six Weeks in Saratoga."