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Horse for the Course: Warrior Mentality 

Reigning Eclipse Award winner Jackie’s Warrior looks to continue his brilliance at Saratoga.

Jackie's Warrior won the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes as a 4-year-old earlier this summer. (NYRA)

Jackie’s Warrior authoritatively announced to the racing world that he was a force to be reckoned with via a pair of spellbinding victories early in his career at Saratoga Race Course during the summer of 2020. He was a true star in the making. Last summer, Jackie’s Warrior confirmed his status as one of the best horses in training with another double at the Spa en route to an Eclipse Award. This summer? Well, Jackie’s back—and perhaps better than ever.

A horse for the course just about everywhere he goes—he’s won multiple graded stakes at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs in addition to Saratoga—Jackie’s Warrior has an opportunity to establish himself as a true Spa legend if he accomplishes his 2022 summer objectives. The 4-year-old bay son of Maclean’s Music out of the A.P. Five Hundred mare Unicorn Girl won the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (July 30) and will be pointed toward the Grade 1 Forego (August 27), according to Steve Asmussen, his Hall of Fame trainer. If he is able to win the latter, Jackie’s Warrior would become a perfect 6-for-6 at Saratoga; he won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 1 Hopeful as a juvenile and followed up by taking the Grade 2 Amsterdam and Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens as a sophomore. Overall, Jackie’s Warrior owns a record of 11-1-1 from 15 starts with earnings of $2,474,664.

Most recently Jackie’s Warrior earned his tenth graded stakes victory with a 6½-length romp in the Grade 2 True North at Belmont on June 10, prompting Asmussen to say, “The separation he gets without being asked is beautiful. He’s so rhythmic.” His jockey, Eclipse Award winner Joel Rosario, added: “He’s a special horse. He means everything to me. He’s very smart and fast and he’s on my list as one of the top horses [I’ve ridden].”

Bred in Kentucky by J & J Stables, Jackie’s Warrior is owned by Kirk and Judy Robison. He won the Eclipse Award for Champion Male Sprinter in 2021, thanks in large part to his Saratoga success. While cruising to his most recent victory aboard the 1-5 favorite in the True North, the cerebral Rosario thought ahead a bit.

“I looked back,” he said, “and was so far in front and decided to save some for the next one.”

Jackie’s Warrior will be retired at the end of the year and become a stallion at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. But before he transitions to the breeding shed, there are a few more things his connections would like to check off their list, including a Breeders’ Cup victory and another Eclipse Award. But before that, Asmussen has a couple of important dates at the Spa circled on his calendar. Jackie looks ready to make some more history. 

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