Jackie’s Warrior proved much the best in Friday’s $300,000 True North (G2) at Belmont Park, dominating the 6 1/2-furlong sprint on the lead. Last year’s champion sprinter stopped the teletimer in an eye-catching 1:15.09, easing up in deep stretch to score by a five-length margin, and regular rider Joel Rosario had the call for trainer Steve Asmussen and owners J. Kirk and Judy Robison.
Now a 10-time stakes winner, Jackie’s Warrior faced questions entering his four-year-old campaign, undergoing surgery after weakening to sixth as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Del Mar last fall, but he’s come back strong as ever, recording convincing wire-to-wire triumphs in the Count Fleet (G3) at Oaklawn Park and the May 7 Churchill Downs S. (G1) prior to the True North.
Jackie’s Warrior will enter the second half of the season as the undisputed leader in the sprint division.
“He’s a very fast horse that has a tremendous amount of poise and confidence about himself,” Asmussen said. “How he’s handling races and all three of his runs this year, he’s eased up late (with) good separation from them…the separation he gets without being asked is beautiful. He’s so rhythmic watching him run.”
The frontrunning son of Mclean’s Music didn’t get away cleanly from the starting gate, but Jackie’s Warrior quickly recovered and sped forward to lead through opening splits in :22.83 and :45:52. The 1-5 favorite drew off stylishly into the stretch, making it look so easy in the process, and Jackie’s Warrior has now earned $2,424,664 from a 15-11-1-1 record.
“It took a little time to get him going, but he was just doing his thing after that,” said Rosario, who notched his 10th win aboard Jackie’s Warrior. “He’s a special horse. I just sat and let him do his thing and he’s unbelievable. He means everything. So many great memories. He’s a special horse. He’s very smart and fast and he’s on my list as one of the top horses (I’ve ridden).”
Sound Money held second as the 5-1 second choice after tracking the early pace, seven lengths better than War Tocsin. Baby Yoda, Mr Phil, and Night Time completed the order.
Bred in Kentucky by J & J Stable, Jackie’s Warrior sold for $95,000 as a yearling at the 2019 Keeneland September sale. He’s the first stakes winner from the A. P. Five Hundred mare Unicorn Girl.
Asmussen said a pair of Grade 1 Saratoga stakes, the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 30 and $600,000 Forego (G1) on August 27, are likely targets for Jackie’s Warrior.