Jackson Bend is, in some ways, horse racing's Brett Favre. He has retired more than once, but that hasn't always meant he was done toying with his competition.
The Jacks or Better Farm homebred was conditioning for the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in 2012 when he collided with a loose horse at the Oklahoma training track and was knocked to the ground. At that point, the son of Hear No Evil had finished third in the G1 Preakness (2010), third in the G1 Breeders' Cup Sprint (2011), and swept the 2009 Florida Stallion Stakes series. After the collision, 5-year-old Jackson Bend ran last in the 2012 Forego (a title defense effort) but his connections suspected something wasn't right. Owner Fred Brei of Jacks or Better told The Blood-Horse in 2013 the colt had significant swelling and back soreness and Brei thought he also may have suffered a concussion.
Brei sent Jackson Bend back to Jacks or Better in Reddick, Fla., for some downtime and planned to send him to stud, but a test breeding didn't go as well as Brei had hoped. After some more recovery time, the horse started running away with his exercise rider on the farm during routine jogs. So, it was back to the track, in the barn of then-Jacks or Better house trainer Stanley Gold, where he returned to the stakes levels.
Jackson Bend picked up a third in the G2 Smile Sprint Handicap and second in the G1 Forego and G3 Hal's Hope. In March 2014, Brei told the media he wasn't happy with the colt's performance and retired him again, this time to Journeyman Stud for the 2015 breeding season.
But several astute fans noted that Jackson Bend wasn't advertised on Journeyman's website last year or this year and sent emails to Brei (and to us at the Paulick Report), asking what became of the horse.
“We don't get bombarded, but every once in a while we'll get the question of where is he and what's he doing,” said Brei.
Brei says Jackson Bend has a paddock to himself at Jacks or Better, where his primary occupation is eating. Sometimes, when a new round of yearlings moves within sight of his field, he shows off by running a few laps for them.
“He's as healthy as can be,” said Brei. “His personality is great. He's always been a different kind of horse, let's call it. He's a very social type of horse and enjoys company.
“His handler is Mother Nature. He has his own paddock, and he lives in that paddock and totally enjoys it.”
Jackson Bend's future is still wide open, according to Brei. The horse seemed so comfortable that Brei called Robert La Penta, who co-owns Jackson Bend, two months ago to ask if La Penta had any interest in yet another racetrack comeback. The two ruled that out, and Brei is non-committal about what the horse will do instead. Breeding or retraining for another career are both possibilities, as is a life of leisure.
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