Jackson Bend would be near the top of any list of horses that began their careers at Calder Casino & Race Course and went on to become national stars.
On Saturday, the 6-year-old will be back at Calder for the first time in two years as part of a strong eight-horse field in the Ponche Handicap.
The Ponche, for 3-year-olds and up, is one of four stakes races on Calder’s annual Summit Preview day. All are six furlongs on dirt with $75,000 purses.
Many of the horses in Saturday’s stakes will be back at Calder on July 6. That day Calder will have the annual Summit of Speed with four graded stakes, all at six furlongs or up.
In the Ponche, Jackson Bend will face what his trainer Stan Gold said “is probably one of the best fields [Calder] has had here in several years.”
Trickmeister, a winner of stakes at Gulfstream Park and three other tracks, will make his Calder debut and will likely seek an early lead.
Bahamian Squall comes into the Ponche after a win, a second- and a third-place finish in stakes races at this year’s Gulfstream meet.
Jackson Bend and Close It Out will be rallying from the back of the pack.
Gold and Steve Towne, Close It Out’s trainer, said they hope that at least one horse will challenge Trickmeister and set a fast pace.
In 2009, Jackson Bend won Calder’s three-race Florida Stallion Stakes series for 2-year-olds, for Gold and owner Fred Brei, who lives in Ocala.
Late that year, Brei sold a majority stake in Jackson Bend to Robert LaPenta, who lives in Connecticut. Since then, Gold has trained Jackson Bend at Calder and Nick Zito, a long-time trainer for LaPenta, has trained the horse at other tracks.
Jackson Bend has won more than $1.6 million with eight stakes wins and a third-place finish in the 2010 Preakness Stakes. He finished third or better in seven of his eight Calder starts for Gold.
• Angelica Zapata heads a nine-horse field in the U Can Do It for fillies and mares 3 years old and up. She won four Calder stakes last year for trainer Ron Pellegrini.
• The Leave Me Alone for 3-year-old fillies has 14 entrants, and a maximum 12 will run. Street Girl, Dreaming of Lucy and Twice Told Tale are likely favorites.
Calder will have 12 races on Saturday with first post of 12:50 p.m., and will have simulcast betting on the Belmont Stakes and all of the day’s other races at Belmont Park.
The Belmont Stakes is Belmont’s 12th race with a scheduled post time of 6:38 p.m.
Gulfstream, Magic City Casino, Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park and Palm Beach Kennel will simulcast all of the day’s Calder races and all Belmont Park races.
Dania Jai Alai and Mardi Gras Racing & Gaming will simulcast the Belmont Stakes, but will not have any of the earlier Belmont Park races or any Calder races.