After lightning in the area caused a weather delay of about 30 minutes, Jackie’s Warrior flashed lightning speed to dominate Sunday’s $200,000 Amsterdam S. (G2) at Saratoga. The 1-2 favorite disposed of Drain the Clock in short order and drew off, giving Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen career win number 9,442 – just three away from tying the North American record.
Jackie’s Warrior ran as if his tough beat by Drain the Clock last out had been gnawing at him. His troubled start in the June 5 Woody Stephens (G1) on Belmont Day set the table for that upset, but he found no obstacles at the Spa.
Drain the Clock, the 3.40-1 second choice, broke on top, only to have Jackie’s Warrior sprint alongside and put his head in front. Although Drain the Clock was able to hang with the favorite through the opening quarter in :21.46 in the slop, he could not keep up after that first call.
Jackie’s Warrior was already 2 1/2 lengths clear at the half in a blistering :43.85. Jockey Joel Rosario was just a passenger as the bay extended his superiority to 7 1/4 lengths down the lane. Splashing six panels in 1:08.62, Jackie’s Warrior coasted home to finish the 6 1/2-furlong affair in 1:15.46.
“He broke really well today, better than last time,” Rosario told NYRA publicity. “He’s fast and then he just kept going. That’s what he likes to do.
“He just got out of there and does it so easy. He’s amazing. He’s so fast. It doesn’t even feel like he’s going that fast.”
“We got caught being overly confident last time,” Asmussen said. “He (Rosario) helped him away from there today and held him together and the horse ran extremely well. He’s a very special horse. I think that he’s shown that on many occasions. He gets the respect I think he deserves and it’s extremely fun to watch him run.
“He won on an off track today, which is the first time, and to get that variable out of the way knowing that weather doesn’t care how important we think something is, that he’ll be able to handle that going forward.”
Drain the Clock soldiered on in second, thus rounding out the exacta for sire Maclean’s Music (who was himself an Asmussen trainee). Crowded Trade rallied for the show spot, another length back, as the 7.30-1 third choice. Flash of Mischief, who chased the top two early, retreated to fourth. Mister Luigi and River Dog concluded the order under the wire.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior is now 3-for-3 at the Spa, having conquered last summer’s Saratoga Special (G2) and Hopeful (G1). The brilliant colt carried his speed around Belmont Park’s one-turn mile in the Champagne (G1), but suffered his first loss when fourth to Essential Quality in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). That distance again proved a bridge too far in the Feb. 27 Southwest (G3), where Jackie’s Warrior was a well-beaten third behind the same champion.
Reverting to one turn in the May 1 Pat Day Mile (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day, Jackie’s Warrior set an almost unsustainable pace yet held on by a head. Shortening up to seven furlongs for the Woody Stephens was the right move, thwarted by circumstances as Drain the Clock denied him by a neck.
Jackie’s Warrior’s revenge here made him a millionaire with $1,058,964 in earnings from an overall mark of 9-6-1-1. The next logical spot is the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) on Travers Day, Aug. 28, and a rubber match with Drain the Clock. Looking further ahead, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) has to enter calculations.
Asmussen alluded to that agenda.
“Jackie’s Warrior’s resume here at Saratoga is hard to match,” the Hall of Famer said. “This race was to get right back on track for the Jerkens. With his performance today on top of what he did in the Pat Day Mile, he’ll have a lot to say in the one-turn division the rest of the year.”
Asmussen also commented on his pursuit of the late Dale Baird’s record of 9,445 wins in North America. Jackie’s Warrior was his second winner of the day, after the Gun Runner colt Elusive Target broke his maiden in Sunday’s 5TH race at Ellis Park.
“Today was a day we felt very live. We had 10 runners and two winners. They all ran well. Any day you have Jackie’s Warrior win the Amsterdam like that, you feel pretty good as a trainer. But we are three wins away, so we’ll have to pick up our slack at Louisiana Downs these next couple of days.”
Jackie’s Warrior was bred by J & J Stables in Kentucky and sold for $95,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September. His dam, the A.P. Five Hundred mare Unicorn Girl, is a half-sister to multiple stakes scorer Bernie the Maestro. This is the further family of Canadian champion Honky Tonk Tune as well as Grade 1 winner Mayo on the Side, dam of Grade 2 hero Midcourt and ancestress of Mexican celebrity Kukulkan.