CARTER HANDICAP | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Jackson Bend, the longest shot in the field, held off a flying even-money choice Caleb's Posse by a nose in the final strides to prevail in the $400,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack April 7.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Jackson Bend shook loose of pacesetter Shackleford leaving the furlong pole and dug in resolutely for the final sixteenth of a mile as Caleb's Posse charged home.
Caleb's Posse, last in the field of five before rallying from the three-sixteenths pole, came up just short for Rajiv Maragh while drawing closer with every stride as the two approached the wire.
Million-dollar earners occupied the first spots as Shackleford finished 1 1/2 lengths behind in third. The Godolphin Racing entry of Emcee and Tahitian Warrior followed. The field was reduced to five by the scratch of Tom Fool Handicap winner Calibrachoa with a foot problem.
The final time for the seven-furlong event was 1:22.32 on a fast track.
At odds of 9-2, Jackson Bend was the longest shot in the field for trainer Nick Zito and owners Robert LaPenta and Fred Brei. Jackson Bend improved to 4-for-4 at the seven-furlong distance and handed consecutive wins in the Carter to Zito, who won the race last year with Morning Line .
It was the second grade I win for 5-year-old Jackson Bend, who captured the Forego Stakes at Saratoga Race Course last summer.
Bred in Florida by Jacks or Better Farm, Jackson Bend is by Hear No Evil out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings.
The race got off to an odd start when expected pacesetter Emcee lost his footing at the start and trailed out of the gate. Shackleford, last year's Preakness Stakes winner, inherited the lead for Jesus Castanon as a result and carved early splits of :23.67 and :46.98.
Fourth early, Jackson Bend progressed to pressure Shackleford on the turn before poking his head in front in upper stretch. Those two battled through the lane as Caleb's Posse wound up his patented late run.
Jackson Bend improved to 9-6-4 in 25 races with earnings of $1,580,950. He won for the second time in three starts in 2012 after beginning the season Jan. 14 with a victory in the Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He came back with a third-place finish behind Mucho Macho Man in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap March 10.
Carrying 122 pounds, Jackson Bend paid $11.40 and $4.10. Caleb's Posse, last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile victory for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, lost his second straight heartbreaker following his neck loss to Calibrachoa in the Tom Fool. He returned $2.90 and rounded out a $24.20 exacta. There was no show wagering.