By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Trainer Steve Asmussen is confident star two-year-old Jackie’s Warrior will last out the extra distance as the unbeaten colt bids to stretch his stamina in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on Friday.
Jackie’s Warrior is already a dual G1 winner, having won the Hopeful Stakes over 7f at Saratoga in September before stretching out to a mile for a stunning 5½-length win in New York’s most prestigious two-year-old contest, the Champagne Stakes, at Belmont on October 10.
Now the son of Maclean’s Music is set to tackle 1m½f in at Keeneland, where his chief rival is Godolphin’s Essential Quality, a course-and-distance winner in G1 company on his most recent outing for trainer Brad Cox.
Jackie’s Warrior covered a half-mile in 48.80s on Sunday at Keeneland in preparation for the $2m Juvenile. “He had a nice, easy half-mile,” said Asmussen, who is again leading the way among US trainers numerically with 355 winners in 2020 going into the Sunday programme.
“Thought he moved well over the racetrack. The circumstances were excellent today; we’re very excited about running him on Friday.”
Asmussen, who has more than 9,000 career victories to his name, is confident in the colt’s ability going around two turns in the Juvenile. “
I think what gave us the most confidence was his Champagne,” he said, speaking to the Keeneland media team.
“He had two brilliant races at Saratoga and for him to carry that over to another surface … and he looked brilliant doing it.
“This will be his first two-turn race. He is very speed-influenced in his pedigree but physically and mentally he is doing exceptional.”
Asmussen, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Mitole, could have three runners in the 2020 edition with Echo Town, Yaupon and Nashville among the pre-entries.
Yaupon is undefeated in his four career starts, all of them this year. “Got a very laid-back attitude with a tremendous amount of talent,” said Asmussen.
Nashville, unbeaten in two starts at much lower grade, is also pre-entered in the Dirt Mile plus a stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.
“Everything’s on the table,” said WinStar president Elliott Walden. “He’s an extreme talent but he’s only three and he’s only run twice. It seems like a big ask to run against the accomplished sprinters that he would have to run against. Not that he wouldn’t be capable.
“I think he’ll go a mile. I think he’ll use his speed to stretch out as well naturally. We’ll see how it goes. Great problem to have. Blessed to have him. He’s got a cool name: Nashville.”