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BENSALEM, PA – A dominating victory by J. Kirk and Judy Robinson’s Jackie’s Warrior in the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (G2) and a 100+/1 upset added to the excitement on the Pennsylvania Derby undercard Saturday at Parx.
Along with the Gallant Bob, the stakes action supporting the Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion – each Grade 1 events with $1 million purses – included the $300,000 Turf Monster (G3), the $200,000 Greenwood Cup (G3), the Parx Dirt Mile, the Plum Pretty, and the Alphabet Soup.
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Jackie’s Warrior continued to make his case as the top 3-year-old sprinter with a dominating victory in the Gallant Bob.
With Joel Rosario aboard, Jackie’s Warrior allowed Real Talk to briefly take the lead as they approached the first 1/4 in a quick 21.97 seconds. Jackie’s Warrior then quickly shook off his challenger through a :44.15 1/2-mile.
Coming through the stretch, Jackie’s Warrior was much in control of the race as Rosario looked around four times for the competition, then wrapped up on the colt for a 6 3/4-length victory while covering the 6 furlongs 1:08.64.
The heavy favorite paid $2.10 across the board.
“That was nice,” Rosario said. “That is a nice horse, he was enjoying what he was doing out there. I mean, he is just a fast horse. He goes fast and he goes faster. I didn’t have to ask him for much. Maybe in the beginning a little bit. Things are easy when you are on a horse like him. He was not tired at all.”
The Gallant Bob was the third consecutive graded stakes victory for Jackie’s Warrior, who has now won 4 of 6 races this year. This is also the seventh stakes victory that includes the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, where he finished a neck ahead of Life Is Good, who came back to win the Kelso (G2) at Belmont Park earlier Saturday.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is now hoping the Gallant Bob has prepared Jackie’s Warrior for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), a race he won in 2019 with Mitole.
“He’s exciting to watch,” Asmussen said. “He’s very exciting to watch. What a very special horse he’s been. He’s run some game races and obviously we’re hoping it’s the ideal prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He ran so valiantly with Life Is Good. They both ran such a good race that day, we just felt that this race would give him more time to the Breeders Cup, and it was the right thing to do.”
“He had won the Saratoga Special and the Hopeful as a 2-year-old, so obviously the Amsterdam and the Allen Jerkens were the target for the summer, After the Jerkens, how do you get to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint? We’re in as good shape as possible, and we thought this was the right step to get there.”
John Velazquez added another exciting finish to his stellar Hall of Fame resume when Mind Control surged inside Silver State in the late stages to win the Parx Dirt Mile by an exciting head.
The Todd Pletcher-trained 5-year-old full son of Stay Thirsty registered his first victory around two turns after winning multiple Grade 1 dirt sprints. His record now stands at 23-9-3-4 with $1,413,229 earned for Red Oak Stable (who also bred him) and Madaket Stables.
“He didn’t give up, I didn’t give up,” Velazquez said. “When I asked for more, he gave me more. I don’t remember riding him this long, two turns. He’s been in a mile, a one-turn mile, and then I don’t remember him going that far. I always thought he could, but we never tried him for a long (race) and he showed us that he could.”
Silver State broke poorly as the 4/5 favorite and was last in the early going before being outfinished late for second. Warrior’s Charge, Rock On Luke, Thorny Tale, West Will Power, and Informative completed the order of finish. Dreams Untold scratched.
“Silver State looked like he got the jump on him and it didn’t look like we were going to get back up in time,” said Pletcher assistant Byron Hughes. “But Johnny kept driving and the horse has a big heart and it’s not the first time he has done something like that, so we were happy with it. He never gave up and Johnny never gave up on him. Johnny knows him well. Can’t say enough about his heart, that’s for sure. I was watching Silver State down the backside and he made his run around the turn and he came up alongside of us and I thought he had the jump and I wasn’t sure if we were going to fight back, but something unexpected like that is always impressive, always exciting.”
Mind Control returned $7.20 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.40 to show. Silver State brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show. Warrior’s Charge paid $3.20 to show.
Mind Control is likely headed next to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), where a fees-waived berth awaits him courtesy of his John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) victory over this course 2 starts back.
Morris Kernan Jr., Yo Berb’s Racing, and Jagger Inc.’s Magic Michael used his home court advantage to earn his first stakes victory in the Greenwood Cup.
Trained by Jamie Ness, Magic Michael settled near the back of the field as Sea Foam set the pace through fractions of :24.82, :50.07, and 1:16.13. As Last Samurai overtook Sheer Flattery in the stretch, Magic Michael got there in the final strides to win by a neck.
Last Samurai finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Sheer Flattery in third, with Lookin at Roses another 6 lengths back in fourth. Moretti, the 2/1 favorite, finished fifth and was followed by Shooger Ray Too, 2019 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner Math Wizard, Sea Foam, and Forewarned.
“The longer I was sitting, the more he was wanting to go, and once I set him up and got him up to third, man, he really took off,” said Frankie Pennington, who won his second race on the Pennsylvania Derby undercard. “He is very consistent. Jamie does a great job with him, and I think the more distance the better with this horse, and he was right on point.”
Magic Michael, who covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:32.01 and paid $11.00 to win, has now won 7 of 8 races at Parx for leading trainer Ness, who claimed the 4-year-old Dramedy gelding for $30,000 at Churchill Downs on November 14, 2020.”
“You know, we are local. A big day. Took a little bit of a shot here but the horse seems to do well over this track,” Ness said. “We have been pointing to this race for two months. It came up a little stronger than we thought it would. But we are here, took a shot and my jock knows this track real well. I think he won the race for me today.”
Local trainer Juan Vazquez’s Hollywood Talent – dismissed at 108/1 – rallied from well off the pace to post a massive upset in the Turf Monster for the 10-year-old Pennsylvania-bred gelding’s first career stakes score.
Beer Can Man – the field’s lone 3-year-old in town from California – took second after encountering trouble in the stretch. Admiral Abe and Firecrow finished a 1/2-length apart in third and fourth, respectively, after dueling with each other up front early.
Battle Station took fifth over a dead heat for sixth that went to the 9/5 co-favorites Carotari and Caravel (the latter a filly). West Fork and Amblin Man completed the order of finish.
Belgrano, Smooth B, The Connector, and Main Track Only entry King’s House scratched.
Hollywood Talent’s win was his first since taking a 5-furlong turf sprint at Delaware Park last September, from which he was claimed for $8k by another barn. The son of Talent Search’s previous best finishes in stakes saw him finish third in the 2019 edition of this race 1 start after defeating Pennsylvania-bred stakes foes over this course and distance.
Hollywood Talent returned $219.20 to win, $55.40 to place, and $19 to show. Beer Can Man brought back $5.40 to place and $3.60 to show. Admiral Abe paid $7.60 to show.
Daniel Lopez and George Chestnut’s Club Wagon answered the two-turn test successfully as she held off a late run from Vault to take the Plum Pretty for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares to start the day’s stakes action.
Starting from the sixth post position, Chub Wagon stalked pacesetter Precious from the outside through fractions of :24 3/5, :48 4/5, and 1:12 3/5 before taking the lead halfway around the far turn to come away with a half-length victory under regular jockey Jomar Torres.
“We told the kid [Jomar Torres] when you come at the top of the stretch, try as best as you can because the top horses are going to be closing,” trainer Guadalupe Preciado said “I was not worried about the horse going long. She ran very hard.”
Chub Wagon, who paid $4.20 to win as the favorite, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 4/5. The 4-year-old filly also survived a trainer inquiry as she drifted out as she and Vault approached the finish line.
“Good trip first time for her first time long,” Torres said “She was relaxed and nice. She got a little tired I love that horse. I think she got out a little, but not too much. I didn’t think she would come down.”
Chub Wagon, whose lone defeat came in the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes with a second-place finish, has now won 10 of 11 races.
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Morris Kernan Jr., Yo Berb’s Racing, and Jagger Inc.’s You Must Chill closed the Pennsylvania Derby day by giving his connections their third win on the undercard in the Alphabet Soup for Pennsylvania-breds.
You Must Chill stayed within 2 lengths of the pacesetter Saratoga Jack before jockey Frankie Pennington angled the 5-year-old gelding to the outside at the top of the stretch, then made a strong run past Wait for It for the 1 1/2-length victory while finishing the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:47.37 over a good turf course.
“He broke good and he put me in a forward position,” Pennington said. “He was dragging me the whole way. At the top of the stretch, it was a waiting game. Once I got out, he exploded.”
This was the first stakes victory for You Must Chill, who has won 4 for 5 races – both on dirt and turf at various distances – since Jamie Ness started training him.
“We always thought he was a grass horse,” Ness said. “Obviously, he had a couple of good races on the dirt. Finally, we finally got him on the grass. We had to go to Penn (National) to do it. He really ran on a bad turf course, but we knew he could handle the turf course.”
Along with You Must Chill, Ness, Pennington, and the partnership won a starter allowance with Sevier and the Greenwood Cup with Magic Michael as part of the Pennsylvania Derby undercard.
“All 3 wins were with all of my partners,” Ness said. “These are all local guys and this was their day. I am really happy for them.”
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