Jackie's Warrior pursues elusive Breeders' Cup win
Jackie’s Warrior has been a brilliant one-turn performer over the past three seasons, earning more than $2.7 million while accumulating 11 graded stakes victories, and last year’s champion male sprinter became the first horse in Saratoga’s 154-year history to win a Grade 1 stakes three consecutive years when capturing the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) this summer.
The one distinction missing from a Hall of Fame-worthy resume is a Breeders’ Cup win.
After opening his career with four smashing wins, Jackie’s Warrior finished fourth at odds-on when making his two-turn debut in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland. The four-year-old speedster weakened to sixth as the 1-2 favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar, exiting the setback with a chip in his left knee.
Jackie’s Warrior returned his form this spring, recording facile wins in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3), Churchill Downs S. (G1), and True North (G2) before a two-length score in the Vanderbilt, but the Steve Asmussen-trained colt will need to rebound from a runner-up effort in the Aug. 27 Forego (G1) at Saratoga.
The Forego took place at seven furlongs, one furlong longer than the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and supporters hope it turns out to be a blessing in disguise, refocusing Jackie’s Warrior upon delivering a career best at Keeneland.
Owned by J. Kirk and Judy Robison, Jackie’s Warrior is expected to make his career finale in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, heading to stud at Spendthrift Farm in 2023. Regular rider Joel Rosario will be up.
Jack Christopher, a sharp winner of the seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) most recently and unbeaten from five one-turn starts, will be a top rival if connections opt for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The three-year-old colt is expected to be cross-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), but that race won’t have any championship implications.
Cody’s Wish, who upset Jackie’s Warrior in the Forego, will bring a three-race, stakes-winning streak to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for Bill Mott. The Hall of Fame trainer is also responsible for the up-and-coming Elite Power, who stretched his win streak to four, and notched his first graded tally, when romping in the recent Vosburgh (G2) at Aqueduct.
Jackie’s Warrior remains the horse to beat. And even his detractors would concede, a Breeders’ Cup win would be a fitting conclusion to a sensational career.