Jockey Joel Rosario sat virtually motionless aboard Jackie’s Warrior for much of the final half-mile in Saturday’s $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga, letting the reigning sprint champion run and win as he pleased.
Victory in the six-furlong Vanderbilt, under career-top weight of 127 pounds, made Jackie’s Warrior a Grade 1 winner at Saratoga for the third consecutive year, an unprecedented achievement at the nation’s oldest track since the grading of races began nearly a half-century ago.
Jackie’s Warrior captured the Hopeful (G1) during the 2020 Saratoga stand and the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) last season. It was the fifth overall stakes win at the Spa for the four-year-old son of Maclean’s Music, who also took down the Saratoga Special (G2) at two and the Amsterdam (G2) prior to the Jerkens.
Allowing Doc Amster to set the pace for the opening quarter-mile, Jackie’s Warrior was switched outside that rival down the backside, effortlessly seized the lead on the far turn, and swung wide out into the middle of the track for the stretch run.
Opening up a 4 1/2-length by the eighth pole, Rosario took a couple peaks under his shoulder approaching the wire and eased up on Jackie’s Warrior in the final yards. The winning margin was two lengths over 22-1 outsider Kneedeepinsnow. The final time was 1:09.74 over a fast track, and the win payoff was $2.50.
“He’s the whole package. He just has a tremendous amount of ability and confidence in himself,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Jackie’s Warrior for J. Kirk and Judy Robison.
Kneedeepinsnow finished three lengths ahead of Willy Boi, with Ny Traffic in fourth. Doc Amster weakened to fifth, while Long Range Toddy trailed the field of six.
Jackie’s Warrior will attempt to make it 6-for-6 at Saratoga in the $600,000 Forego (G1) over seven furlongs on Aug. 27. That race will serve as his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in November.
“Those will be his last two races and then he is off to Spendthrift for his stud career,” Asmussen said.
Jackie’s Warrior finished sixth as the 1-2 favorite in last year’s Sprint at Del Mar, but was found to have suffered an injury. He’s come back as good as ever this season, preceding this with scores in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3), Churchill Downs (G1), and True North (G2).
Jackie’s Warrior has won 12 times from 16 starts. Other stakes wins earlier in his career included the Champagne (G1), Pat Day Mile (G2), and Gallant Bob (G2). His earnings now stand at $2,667,164.
Bred in Kentucky by J & J Stables and purchased for $95,000 at Keeneland September, Jackie’s Warrior is out of Unicorn Girl, by A. P. Five Hundred.