LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jack is back!
Jack Christopher, who sparkled in two starts last season before injury cut short his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) aspirations, made an impressive return to racing on Saturday with a dominating victory in the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs.
Under Jose Ortiz, Jack Christopher enjoyed a perfect stalking trip in second behind Pappacap, poked his head in front of that rival passing the quarter pole, and drove home a 3 3/4-length winner in a time of 1:34.81 over a fast track.
Owned by Jim Bakke, Gerry Isbister, Coolmore Stud, and White Birch Farm, Jack Christopher returned $3.40 as the 7-10 favorite in a field of 11 three-year-olds.
“We asked a lot of him today after a long layoff and an injury,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Coming off of a layoff, you never know, especially running a mile. I had a really good feel, here on Derby Day, I asked a lot of him.”
“I chose this race because I wanted him to run against his own age group, and I didn’t want to sprint the horse. I wanted to run him in a race that allowed him to stretch his legs a little bit, and get comfortable at some point of the race, and protect him, and to move him forward. It certainly worked today.”
Pappacap, who set a strong gallop of :22.70, :45.61, and 1:09.66, held second by a head over My Prankster. O Captain finished two lengths back in fourth and was followed by Trafalgar, Doppelganger, Tejano Twist, Kavod, Major General, Trademark, and Ben Diesel.
The word was out on Jack Christopher from the start. Favored at 11-10 on his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 28, the chestnut romped by 8 3/4 lengths going six furlongs. He stretched out to a mile in the Oct. 2 Champagne (G1) at Belmont, winning by 2 3/4 lengths as the 17-10 favorite.
Jack Christopher was shipped to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup, but was withdrawn on the eve of the race after developing a shin injury. Corniche won the Juvenile and cemented the juvenile championship, but has not run since. Jack Christopher’s connections had hoped the colt would recover quickly enough to aim for the Kentucky Derby (G1), but those aspirations ended fairly early over the winter.
“He has a lot more to do, how far we’ll see,” Brown said. “It’s a wonderful victory, very gratifying, but it’s bittersweet that we got him to the first Saturday in May, which we had been thinking about since he debuted at Saratoga. To get him here on the first Saturday in May, and to get him to the winner’s circle, it’ll always be in the back of my mind what could have been. It is what it is.”
Bred in Kentucky by Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate, Jack Christopher sold for $135,000 as a Fasig-Tipton October yearling. By Munnings, Jack Christopher was produced by Rushin No Blushin, a Half Ours half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter Street Boss. Jack Christopher has now earned $621,400.