Minnesota-bred Mr. Jagermeister will attempt to add a graded stakes win to his impressive resume on Saturday at Churchill Downs in the $150,000 Ack Ack Stakes, a grade three one-turn mile where he drew post six in a nine-horse field. Leandro Goncalves will ride in the Ack Ack for trainer Valorie Lund.
The 4-year-old has won seven stakes, all but one restricted to state breds. He defeated open company in the $100,000 Chesapeake, a sprint stake at Colonial Downs on Aug. 17, before returning to Canterbury to win the $100,000 Crocrock Sprint Championship Sept. 1, his most recent race, a dash restricted to Minnesota breds. In all, the son of Atta Boy Roy has won 10 of 17 starts and $493,537 in purses.
Canterbury Park’s 2018 Horse of the Year was shipped to Churchill shortly after the Crocrock and has been training well there, including a bullet five furlong work last Sunday.
“He really likes the track,” Lund said. “I mean he really likes it. He goes so easy.” This comes as no surprise to his trainer as Mr. Jagermeister’s sire, also trained by Lund, did his best running at Churchill including a win in the grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes.
Mr. Jagermeister once before was entered in a graded stakes, the grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita in February of 2018, coming off a nearly five-month layoff. After dueling through blistering fractions he tired.
Saturday could be a different story as the colt is as sharp as he has ever been.
“I think he is the right horse for this race,” Lund said. “If he brings his ‘A-game’ he will be tough to beat.”
Top trainers from across the country have entered experienced runners in the Ack Ack including Steve Asmussen, Dale Romans, Al Stall, Jr., and Phil D’Amato. Many of the horses have been tested in graded events and have won.
Timeline is a two-time grade three winner, but those came in 2017 for trainer Chad Brown when he won the Peter Pan at Belmont and the Pegasus at Monmouth before going favored in the grade 1 Haskell and running up the track. He is now under the care of Asmussen, has not raced since Dec. 1, 2018, and has eight works at Churchill leading into Saturday.
Mr Freeze, trained by Romans, won the 2018 West Virginia Derby, a grade 3, but has not won since in just three tries. Air Strike is the highweight in the field carrying 125 pounds. He won the grade 2 Triple Bend at Santa Anita on May 25 at 12 to 1 odds and has since finished fourth in both the grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the grade 1 Forego at Saratoga. Trainer D’Amato has been prepping Air Strike at Santa Anita showing three published workouts.
With few confirmed front runners, Mr. Jagermeister may control the early pace.
“I never tell my rider to go for the lead,” Lund said but she has a feeling Goncalves may end up there.
Mr Freeze showed his traditional speed recently in one mile Ellis allowance but was reeled in by Mr Darcy who is also entered in the Ack Ack. Mr Darcy has proven to be tactical and enters Saturday’s stake off a second-place finish Sept. 13 racing six furlongs at Churchill, a surface on which he has competed eight times, winning twice, finishing second four times and third once.
The Ack Ack will be the seventh race on Churchill’s 11-race twilight card that begins at 5 p.m. central. Post time for the race is set for 8:05 p.m.
“This is a very good field of horses,” Lund said. “That’s what you get at Churchill. [Mr. Jagermeister] is really good right now. I’m excited.”
Canterbury Race Book will offer Win bet insurance on the race. Guests making a $20 Win bet on Mr. Jagermeister will receive a refund on the bet if he fails to win but runs second. The offer applies to the first $20 win wager on Mr. Jagermeister only and the wager must be made using the MVP Rewards player card. Should he run second, those refunds will be made in MVP Rewards points mid-week and can be converted to cash.