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Jackson Bend in Saratoga Spotlight

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Florida-bred Jackson Bend seeks to successfully defend his crown in the James Marvin Stakes (G3) at Saratoga on opening day Friday.

Jackson Bend was 2-for-2 last summer at the Spa, capturing the James Marvin and then notching his first Grade 1 triumph in the Forego on closing weekend. The 5-year-old son of Journeyman Stud stallion Hear No Evil, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, this year went on to garner wins in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack. In his most recent start, he finished fifth behind Shackleford in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

“He’s hanging in there,” said Zito of the diminutive chestnut. “Tough little horse. It was a good race for him last year, start of a comeback. Everything’s good. Hopefully, he gets a good race, and a good break, good trip, and some good luck.”

Jackson Bend, the 7-5 morning-line favorite, will have the services of Rosie Napravnik for the first time in the James Marvin.

Among Jackson Bend’s challengers will be Caixa Eletronica. Owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, Caixa Eletronica was also twice victorious at the Spa last year, taking starter handicaps at six furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. This year, the 7-year-old son of Arromanches is 3-0-1 from six starts, including wins in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic – which made him a millionaire – and the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont Park last time out.

“Usually I get nervous when my horses run; with him, I’m entertained,” said Repole. “He’s a throwback horse. He can win at any distance, any weather condition. Here’s a horse who ran in $16,000 claimers, and he’s won graded stakes from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles at age 7. He’s the kind of horse that drew me to the game to begin with.”

Having drawn the rail under Javier Castellano, Caixa Eletronica was listed as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

Making his second start in a graded stakes is Darley Stable’s Crossbow, who was fifth behind Caixa Eletronica in the True North on June 9. The 4-year-old Bernardini colt opened 2012 with a pair of inner-track optional claiming victories at Aqueduct, earning a career-high 104 Beyer Speed Figure on Feb. 9.

At 6-1 on the morning line, Crossbow will leave from post position 4 with Ramon Dominguez aboard.

–NYRA Press contributed to this report.

Jackson Bend winning last year’s James Marvin/NYRA photo