News and STORIES

Jackie's Warrior Takes Hopeful Stakes

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday September 09, 2020
The Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has won more than 1,600 juvenile races, but he is still looking for an Eclipse Award for the champion 2-year-old male. That is a possibility this year with the trainer's Jackie's Warrior.

Owned by J. Kirk and Judy Robinson, Jackie's Warrior scored the $250,000 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on Sept. 7. The runner posted the fastest seven-furlong time ever in the event, pushing him to the top of that list of 2-year-colts this year. 

Jackie's Warrior's Background

Scott Blasi is assistant trainer, and he was responsible for saddling the son of Maclean's Music while Asmussen was gone.

"He's a very athletic colt who gets over the ground extremely well," said Blasi. "He just continues to improve. He gets stronger in his works and does things so effortlessly."

The 2 1/4 length gate-to-wire victory in the Runhappy Hopeful came after the runner's three-length win in the six-furlong Aug. 7 Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Miller Lite (G2). His previous performances indicated that he would be able to handle the seven-furlong distance well.

"I would expect to probably go on to the Champagne Stakes (G1, Oct. 10 at Belmont Park at a one-turn mile) and then hopefully to the Breeders' Cup from there, but it's one race at a time," Blasi said. "We'll see how he comes out of this."

Jackie's Warrior is now three-for-three. 

He was purchased for $95,000 by J. Kirk Robinson from the Taylor Made Sale Agency's consignment at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He was bred by J & J Stables out of the A.P. Five Hundred mare Unicorn Girl, and he is the first stakes winner to race from her three foals.

Unicorn Girl has a yearling filly by Candy Ride and a weanling colt by American Pharoah as well. The Candy Ride yearling will start the Sept. 13 Keeneland sale as Hip No. 1. 

"Steve picked him out for Mr. Robison," Blasi said about Jackie's Warrior. "It's been a good partnership over the years."

Steve Asmussen has sent horses over to his father's farm in Texas over the past few years.

"You know when they get their lessons from Steve's dad in Laredo, Texas, they know how to leave the gate," Blasi said.

The Running

In the Runhappy Hopeful, Jackie's Warrior and Joel Rosario took control quickly, using their speed to open a 1 1/2-length lead after a quarter-mile in :22.56.

"I told Joel, 'Let's not overthink this. He's the fastest horse in the race,'" Blasi said.

In a fast :44.83 after four furlongs, Jackie's Warrior led by 2 1/2 lengths. The even-money favorite Reinvestment Risk tried to move up on the turn, but the leader was able to hold on and pull away to a five-length lead at the eight pole.

"It was unbelievable the way he ran last time and he was probably better today," Saez said.

Jackie's Warrior paid $5.70 as the 9-5 second choice. He went seven furlongs in 1:21.29, giving Asmussen back-to-back Runhappy Hopeful Wins. The trainer took last year's edition with Basin.

The stakes go all the way back to 1904, and it was moved to seven furlongs in 1994. The previous best time before Jackie's Warrior was held by Came Home, who finished at 1:21.94 in 2001.

Klaravich Stables' Investment Risk won his Aug. 1 career debut at Saratoga by 7 3/4 lengths. He finished second for Chad Brown in the Runhappy Hopeful. Shadwell Stable's Mutasaabeq, who is Todd Pletcher's Into Mischief colt, finished 10 1/4 lengths behind Investment Risk.