2017 Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Jimmy Jerkens

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Friday morning, Jimmy Jerkens swished a saddle towel around the legs of Holy Helena as the Queen’s Plate winner received four new shoes for today’s Grade 1 Alabama. Jerkens swished his towel and imitated his dad, Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens. (Originally published in the Aug. 19 issue of The Saratoga Special.)

“When do you ever run?”

“Dad, I run when there are races for them and when they’re ready.”

“Ready, how can they not be ready? I’m sitting on the pony and all I see is a J fly by going 100 miles an hour. How can they not be ready? One after another, J, J, J…I look in the entries, nothing.”

Jerkens laughed, the blacksmith laughed, the groom laughed, the writer laughed.

“That used to irk him to the day he died,” Jerkens said. “About the last thing he said to me was, ‘Don’t be afraid to run your horses. They’re not always going to win.’ ”

Jimmy Jerkens has been running ready horses all year, producing 29 wins from 124 starts, including scores in the Santa Anita Handicap, Pimlico Special, Woodbine Oaks, Queen’s Plate, Woodhaven, Gulfstream Park Sprint and three wins at the meet.

Jerkens walked The Special’s Sean Clancy through the barn Friday morning.

St. Augustine: Unraced 2-year-old son of Tapit has breezed four times at Saratoga. “He’s just about ready to run, although, we’ve been having trouble getting his gate card, he’s been a little stubborn. We were hoping to get him started before the meet but now I don’t know. We like him a lot.”

Air Vice Marshal: Bred by Claiborne, the son of War Front managed one win in five starts in Ireland for the Coolmore/Joe Allen team. The $2.2 million yearling purchase is entered here on the turf Sunday. “He was a good third in an off-the-turf allowance, then he ran poorly on a super soft turf, then he ran a really good second on firm turf.”

Securitiz: Centennial’s son of Tiznow has hit the board in both starts at the meet. “He’s been kind of stuck at the two-other-than for a while, but he usually runs his race. Thursday, he got shoved down on the fence behind a slow pace, he likes to be forwardly placed, he was making up ground at the end. He’s a nice old boy.”

A I Initiative: By Jerkens’ Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller, the 2-year-old colt has been training steadily in Saratoga. “He’s just about ready to run, we’ll probably get a run into him before we leave. I like him, he’s a little delicate looking but with time, he’ll fill out and be a nice colt.”

Killala Bay: New York-bred arrived in Saratoga right before the Stable Tour. “Mineshaft 2-year-old owned by Bill Lynn. I haven’t had him long but we like him. He looks like a Mineshaft to me.”

Cloontia: Four-time winner won his most recent start at Belmont. “He’s a nice New York-bred, he went through his New York-bred conditions and won an open a-other-than last time, we’re looking to run him in the West Point or the open two-other-than, we’re leaning towards the two-other-than. He’s a half to Wicked Strong.”

Can You Diggit: Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred has registered two wins this year. “We’re looking to run him in the Albany, he finished fourth in the New York Derby, he was coming on nice. I think the mile and an eighth on a track that’s not quite as sharp will be better for him. He’s been training very well.”

Delta Prince: Stronach Stable’s son of Street Cry stormed to an easy win here August 5. “We’re looking to maybe run him in the Bernard Baruch. He’s had some setbacks, if you get him over there, he does the job, he’s all race horse.”

Candygram: Unraced son of Candy Ride attracted a $300,000 bid from Centennial Farm this year. “He’s a nice, big, good-looking colt, we’re just taking our time, he’s growing in all directions, he really acts like a nice horse.”

The Presidency: Joe Allen’s homebred son of War Front breezed 4 furlongs Aug. 13. “He’s a full-brother to Declaration Of War, he’s a roly-poly kind of horse, we’re taking our time, we’re breezing him, but he’s so big, he’s finally starting to get some muscle to him so we can start getting serious now.”

Rocketry: Stunning-looking son of Hard Spun walloped allowance foes here. “Terrible biter, that’s why he has a cone in front of him. He loves the distance, we’re going to cut him back to a mile and an eighth in the Saranac (laughs), he’s made great strides, it was very tough to get his head in the feed tub but he’s improved dramatically, as a result, he’s looking better and gotten stronger. If he continues like he’s doing, we’ll be in good shape.”

Knarsdale: Daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is 1-for-2 in her promising career. “She won first time out, as a matter of fact, Helena was second to her. She disappointed a little the second time when she was third. She’s main-track-only Saturday and she’s in the body of a race on Monday. We don’t know where she’s going to run yet, we like her a lot, she’s been a little bit of a problem at the gate, I don’t know why, she was so laid back, she took everything in stride there for a long time, since she’s run, she’s gotten a lot more edgy at the gate, she gets a little better but I’d like to see her get over that. She’s been working with Helena.”

Three Perfections: Dark bay colt is on the sidelines. “This horse broke down the day before yesterday, we really like him, he would have been one of the favorites in the race Air Vice Marshall is in, he got a condylar fracture, just going an easy half. The prognosis is good, non displaced, two screws, no other damage.”

Secretary At War: Another Allen homebred, disappointed in the Hall of Fame here. “He beat Frostmourne in the Woodhaven, then he disappointed in the Pennine Ridge, then he ran real good in the Manila. He got too rank in the Hall of Fame. We’ll regroup. We still like him a lot, I’d like to teach him to rate better.”

Team Colors: The son of Street Cry began his career in France, before winning twice here. He finished eighth earlier in the meet. “He was coming along really nice last year, he was a good second to Valid on the dirt, but he condylar fractured. He disappointed the other day, he came out with a little bit of an ankle, but that’s subsided. We gave him a little breeze this morning, he’s on the way back.”

Holy Helena: The big filly rides a three race win streak into the Alabama. “This is Helena. She’s always had a classy way about her, has a classy look in her face, she never did anything in the morning that would really get you excited, but there’s always been something steady and professional about her. Ghostzappers are what they are and the dam has been good, she’s the dam of Holy Boss, a sprinter, but a quality horse, so the pedigree is there.”

Summer Reading: Owned by Jerry Shields, the daughter of Hard Spun finished eighth in the Caress at the meet. “She’s a nice filly who’s run out of conditions, she’s not quite graded stakes quality, she’s stakes placed but not a stakes winner. I’m in a spot with her, hopefully there will be something she can run in when we get back home. Maybe I’ll have to ship her out of town.”

House Limit: A Shields homebred, the son of First Defence has breezed seven times. “He’s pretty close to the races. He had a little issue behind, he’s on the way back up, he’s not far off. He’s been a little stubborn at the gate, but that might have been due to that little thing he had in his right hind. He acts OK.”

Dream Mover: Won a turf sprint in his stateside debut for Team Valor earlier this meet. “I didn’t know about the five and a half, he blew out on the dirt three days before really good and looked great doing it. I thought he could handle it. He’s doing great.”

Fusaichi Red: Five-year-old mare finished third here Aug. 10. “Adena bought her last year, she’s a stake winner, not a graded stake winner. She was third here in a three-other-than, she’s probably seen her best days but her last two races have been pretty good. She’s a big, good-doing filly, she tries hard every time.”

Feeling Bossy: Emily Wygod’s homebred has won three of her last four. “This is a nice New York-bred filly, she’s going to run in the Yaddo. She’s been a nice surprise.”

Five Star Rampage: A graduate of the Fasig-Tipton select yearling sale in 2014, the daughter of Quality Road won a stakes at Finger Lakes Aug. 14. “She’s been a big, big disappointment up to the last couple of months, who knows, she might be finally getting to what we thought. We put Kelvin (Pahal) on her and he’s been breezing her long and real slow, she seems to do well off that. We shipped her up here this spring, thinking she would do well up here. Her last three starts have been at the Lakes, we wanted to keep her running, just to keep some kind of continuity.”

Camp Courage: Another Allen homebred by War Front, he won twice in France. “He started out like he was going to be a phenom over there, then he just went horribly off form. He hasn’t run well since I’ve had him. I shipped him up here, he saw another horse through the crack of the stall and he went absolutely berserk, he was going to go after the other horse. He’s been in exile and he’s been gelded since. I’ve never seen anything like it, I’ve seen horses get studdish, but he loses his mind, he gets insane.”

Shaman Ghost: The big horse left Friday morning for throat surgery at Cornell. “He just left, he’ll go to Dr. Ducharme on Monday. He trained well leading up to the Suburban but he got a little late that day, if you’re being realistic, he’s usually more tenacious than that. I took him over to the main track to give him something somewhat serious for the Woodward and he didn’t work good at all, that’s when we decided. Until now, he’s been incredible, we got a lot done with him. You never know, you never know.”