After an exciting stretch drive, Jackie’s Warrior prevailed by a neck over Life Is Good in Saturday’s $500,000 Allen Jerkens Memorial S. (G1) at Saratoga.
Joel Rosario was up for Steve Asmussen, who won his second consecutive Grade 1 on the program after taking the Forego with Yaupon one race earlier, and Jackie’s Warrior completed the seven-furlong distance in 1:21.39.
“This horse is incredible,” Asmussen said. “The thing you just love about him is his demeanor and the way he goes about everything that he does.”
Life Is Good was quickest from the gate, reeling off opening splits in :21.97 and :44.16 on a short lead as Jackie’s Warrior chased in second, and the pacesetter raced well off the rail the entire way. Jackie’s Warrior began to reduce the lead approaching the stretch, advancing along the inside to take a short lead in upper stretch, but Life Is Good battled back gamely when challenged.
“He broke really well and it looked like Life Is Good was very speedy too, so I decided to stay where I was,” Rosario said. “Jackie’s Warrior is a nice horse and ran a tremendous race. I felt confident, but Life Is Good was not giving up and a lot of credit to him too.”
The duo slugged it out to the wire, with Jackie’s Warrior gaining the upperhand late, and it was nearly 10 lengths back to Following Sea in third. Drain the Clock, Newbomb, and Judge N Jury rounded out the finish.
Campaigned by J. Kirk and Judy Robison, Jackie’s Warrior improved his mark to 4-for-4 at Saratoga. Winner of the Hopeful S. (G1) and Saratoga Special (G2) last year, the bay was exiting a 7 1/4-length, wire-to-wire tally in the Aug. 1 Amsterdam S (G2).
The classy three-year-old colt registered his seventh overall graded stakes victory, including four Grade 1s, and the son of Maclean’s Music has now bankrolled more than $1.5 million from a 10-7-1-1 scorecard.
Bred in Kentucky by J & J Stables, Jackie’s Warrior is out of A. P. Five Hundred mare Unicorn Hill. He cost $95,000 as a 2019 Keeneland September yearling.