As Advertised: Jackie's Warrior Narrowly Outslugs Life Is Good in Allen Jerkens

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Jackie's Warrior | Sarah Andrew

This year's GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. was billed as a match race between current divisional leader Jackie's Warrior and come-backing 'TDN Rising Star' Life is Good (Into Mischief). The race lived up to that and then some with Jackie's Warrior stubbornly holding off a determined and previously undefeated Life is Good for a narrow victory.

The six-horse field moved as one through the opening strides, but 4-5 favorite Life is Good and 3-2 second-choice Jackie's Warrior quickly separated themselves with the former leading the latter by a length through a sharp first quarter in :21.97. Life is Good tugged his way clear beneath Mike Smith, clocking a half in :44.16 with Jackie's Warrior still keeping the pacesetter well within his earshot. Jackie's Warrior moved up the fence to draw even with Life is Good turning for home and the stage was set. Jackie's Warrior jumped about a length clear in early stretch, but Life is Good was not done yet. The 'TDN Rising Star' found more late, charging up on his rival once again, but Jackie's Warrior held tough to win by a neck. It was 8 3/4 lengths back to third-place finisher Following Sea (Runhappy). Winning conditioner Steve Asmussen also saddled GI Forego S. victor Yaupon (Uncle Mo) one race prior, who completed that seven-panel event in 1:21.74 compared to Jackie's Warrior's final time of 1:21.39.

“Jackie was away clean so I wasn't concerned when Life Is Good outbroke him,” Asmussen said. “He was a comfortable horse. Joel [Rosario] has a tremendous amount of confidence in him. He was traveling nicely and wasn't pulling against him or anything. When they threw up :44 1/5 they were rolling along. They separated from the others.”

He continued, “I watched this race from way up in the stretch on the apron and Joel came into the stretch with horse. He's going to run to the wire. It's out of your hands what the other horses are going to do and Mike [Smith] was confident in his horse [Life Is Good], but when [Jackie] got to the head of the stretch the way he did, you had your chance. This horse is incredible.”

“He broke really well and it looked like Life Is Good was very speedy too, so I decided to stay where I was,” said Rosario. “He [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, it was a very good race.”

Runner-up Life is Good was considered the early favorite for the GI Kentucky Derby after winning his first three races for Bob Baffert, including an eight-length romp in the GII San Felipe S. Mar. 6. The $525,000 KEESEP buy was knocked off the Derby trail after a chip was discovered in his left hind ankle that required surgery. When his recovery was complete, he was transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher along with several other WinStar owned or co-owned horses.

“I thought he ran super,” Pletcher said. “He ran 1:21 1/5 off a long layoff. It was a big effort.”

Smith, who has been aboard Life is Good for all four of his career starts, said, “He never stops trying. It was his first race back. We're asking him to run against probably the best sprinters in the country, if not the world, to be honest with you right now, and for him to run like he did it was pretty incredible.”

Jackie's Warrior ran the table during most of his juvenile season, following his debut win with decisive scores in the GII Saratoga Special S., GI Hopeful S. and GI Champagne S. He found two turns a bit too far when fourth to Essential Quality (Tapit) as the favorite in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland in November and lost the Eclipse award to that rival in the process. Tried around two turns once more when making his seasonal bow in a sloppy renewal of Oaklawn's GIII Southwest S., the $95,000 KEESEP buy faded to third behind Essential Quality after setting the early pace. Returning to winning ways when cut back in trip for the GII Pat Day Mile May 1 at Churchill, the bay came up a neck short of Drain the Clock after doing all the heavy lifting in Belmont's GI Woody Stephens S. June 5. Jackie's Warrior got revenge on that rival next out when demolishing him by 7 1/4 lengths in the GII Amsterdam S. over a sloppy Saratoga strip, earning a career best 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

 

Pedigree Notes:

Jackie's Warrior is one of four top-level scorers for Maclean's Music, a group that includes Drain the Clock. The Maclean's Music/A.P. Indy cross is also responsible for a third member of that quartet, GI Preakness S. victor Cloud Computing. The winner's dam Unicorn Girl summoned $850,000 from Arthur Hoyeau at the 2020 Keeneland November Sale. Her now-year-ling colt by American Pharoah preceded her in the ring, bringing $600,000 from Coolmore's M.V. Magnier. Unicorn Girl also has an unraced 2-year-old filly named Lenni Girl (Candy Ride {Arg}). She failed to get in foal to Into Mischief for 2021, but was bred back to that stallion last spring.

Saturday, Saratoga
ALLEN JERKENS MEMORIAL S.-GI, $490,000, Saratoga, 8-28, 3yo, 7f, 1:21.39, ft.
1–JACKIE'S WARRIOR, 124, c, 3, by Maclean's Music
                1st Dam: Unicorn Girl, by A. P. Five Hundred
                2nd Dam: Horah for Bailey, by Doneraile Court
                3rd Dam: Horah for the Lady, by Rahy
($95,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-J. Kirk & Judy Robison; B-J & J
Stables (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen; J-Joel Rosario. $275,000.
Lifetime Record: 10-7-1-1, $1,333,964.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Life Is Good, 122, c, 3, Into Mischief–Beach Walk, by
Distorted Humor. 'TDN Rising Star' ($525,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP).
O-CHC Inc.& WinStar Farm LLC; B-Gary & Mary West Stables
Inc. (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $100,000.
3–Following Sea, 118, c, 3, Runhappy–Quick Flip, by
Speightstown. 'TDN Rising Star' O/B-Spendthrift Farm LLC
(KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $60,000.
Margins: NK, 8 3/4, 2 1/4. Odds: 1.55, 0.95, 6.70.
Also Ran: Drain the Clock, Newbomb, Judge N Jury.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

 

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