Jack Christopher Back To His Best In H. Allen Jerkens Memorial

Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud, and Peter Brant’s Jack Christopher tracked the pace from second early, then moved to the lead nearing the stretch and captured his third win at the elite level in the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1) Saturday at Saratoga.

The 3-year-old Munnings colt suffered his first loss last time out when third in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 23 at Monmouth Park but returned with aplomb Saturday when cutting back to seven furlongs.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Jack Christopher won by 1 1/4 lengths and finished the distance in 1:21.15 on a fast track.

Gunite, off the pace early, went five wide in early stretch and was up for second; Runninsonofagun, off at 41-1 odds, was third, 2 3/4 lengths back. Conagher faded to fourth in the field of eight.

Jack Christopher rated in second behind Conagher through the early stages as that rival set quick fractions of :22.18 for the first quarter and : 44.53 for a half mile. He willingly responded when called on by Ortiz, took charge nearing the quarter pole, and sprinted clear through the stretch.

Jack Christopher returned $3.10 as the favorite.

After closing last year with a win in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont, Jack Christopher began the year with a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs before delivering his best performance yet in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on June 11 at Belmont Park. The Haskell was his first loss, but he was back to his best Saturday. He has lifetime earnings of $1,216,400.

Bred in Kentucky by Castleton Lyons & Kilboy Estate, Jack Christopher is out of the Half Ours mare Rushin no Blushin.

G1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Jack Christopher (No. 6, $3.10*) and fifth-place Accretive (No. 9): “Exiting the Haskell, that was going to be our plan if he didn’t win and cut him back to this prestigious race here. I’m just so proud of the horse. He’s been a very consistent horse. He’s never disappointed us in a workout or a race. Jose [Ortiz] rode another fantastic race on him. He broke sharp and used good judgment to rate him just a touch. Every pole, he was in control of the race. I’m so proud of both Jose and the horse.

“We panned on the one horse [No. 1 Conagher] going to the lead – he broke bad but then he rushed up there and gave us a nice target. Everything unfolded from that point forward the way we thought it would. He can run either way, but it’s nice to have one [a target].”

On a possible next start: “We really haven’t [thought about it]. We just wanted to see him get back into his winning ways and back into winning form and then take it from there.”

Jim Bakke, winning co-owner of Jack Christopher (No. 6): “To win a Grade 1 at Saratoga is a dream come true. It’s obviously a big race and the horse ran really awesome. He really did. I have to give kudos to Jose [Ortiz] and Chad Brown, and Bradley Weisbord and Liz Crow, who selected him at the auction. A total team effort and I can’t be more happy. It’s a thrill of a lifetime for me. I’ve been in this game for 25 years and never had a Grade 1 winner, so this is really special.

“There’s no doubt [going back to one turn helped]. Whether we try for two turns at a later date, I’ll leave that up to Chad.”

Jose Ortiz, winning jockey aboard Jack Christopher (No. 6): “I think he ran great turning back to seven [furlongs]. I think the race was better than what it looked on paper. We got some decent horses.

“Four weeks [rest] and he ran huge. He gave me everything he had and a very good race. Honestly, though he was a little offbeat down the backside but at the three-eighths pole he picked up little by little and I knew when I got next to the one-horse [Conagher], I knew I got him. From then on he just kept going the same pace. I knew if he didn’t stop, he was going to run them off their feet because he was running the whole way. Seven [furlongs] is a tricky distance. I’d rather go a mile but seven-eighths is tricky. The pace is a little bit faster and you have to run the whole way there and he did.”

Tyler Gaffalione, jockey aboard runner up Gunite (No. 8): “My horse broke alertly. We knew there was going to be a little bit of speed to our inside and we didn’t want to get into a speed duel up front, so we just decided to let him relax a little bit. He just kept taking a run at that colt. That’s a very talented colt, the winner, and my horse never gave it up. It was a big effort. All the credit to [trainer] Steve [Asmussen] and his team for having him ready today.”

Kendrick Carmouche, jockey of third-place Runninsonofagun (No. 2): “The trainer [John Toscano, Jr.] had him ready to go in this race. I thought last time he ran very well against these horses. Coming back to a Grade 1, we put blinkers on him and he’s been more aggressive and more forward with us. I think our horse is going to get better with more time and the future will be good for him.

“He never stopped today and he just kept fighting. I’m really happy with him. I wish I could have been outside making my run, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Winning margin: 1 1/4-lengths

Final time (seven furlongs): 1:21.15

Fractions: 22.18, 44.53, 1:08.44

Full order of finish: 6-8-2-1-9-5-7-4

The post Jack Christopher Back To His Best In H. Allen Jerkens Memorial appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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