We pick our spots. One of our regulars on the Stable Tour, Jimmy Jerkens began the meet slowly. We didn’t go near his barn on the Oklahoma side. When he went 5-for-6, we showed up.
Coming off his most lucrative season, when his horses earned $5.5 million, Jerkens has won 29 races and $2 million this year. It’s a long way from 2011-13 when Jerkens didn’t crack the million-dollar mark. Those days are long gone as his horses have earned at least $4 million in every season since. If you’re a numbers guy, Jerkens has won races at a 21 percent clip for his career.
The Special’s Sean Clancy stopped by Jerkens’ barn Thursday morning.
Punchline: The big, placid bay son of Into Mischief, wearing Team Colors’ halter, finishes walking around the outside walking ring after a routine gallop. Jerkens pulls off his blanket and takes a long look at the imposing colt. “This is a 2-year-old of Centennial’s, he just got here three weeks ago. He’s up to a half-mile, he’s big, but needs to fill out. He won’t be ready for a while.”
Go Zappem: Jimmy Jerkens will always be the Chief’s son, he’s proud of it, especially when he shows off a 3-year-old filly on the walking ring. Jerkens pulls off a blue and red cooler. “You might remember the mare my father had, Go Unbridled. She’s out of her, by Ghostzapper, New York-bred. She wasn’t showing a whole lot, we put her on the turf the other day and it seemed like it woke her up a little bit. There’s a race at the end of the meet but we might wait until the beginning of Belmont.”
Point To Remember: Jerkens unsnaps a blue runner and webbing and walks into the stall with the chestnut son of Point Of Entry. “Come here, boy. Come here. This horse broke his maiden the other day. I thought it was a good race, he ran well the time before that and ran the same type of race. He’s had some issues behind. He’s got big curby hocks. I haven’t run him on the turf, I worked him on it last year and he acted like he hated it. Then he started working good enough on the dirt that we left him on the dirt, we think he’ll go on a little bit.”
Lion Dance: Adena Springs homebred 2-year-old is by Bernardini out of Cat Moves, winner of the 2009 Prioress for owner/breeder Ned Evans. “I might run him before we leave here. We like him. I would have run him already but he’s been real slow to learn about the gate. He broke good, then we took him back to remind him and he didn’t break good. I’ll probably gallop him out a little bit and run him, see what happens.”
Mihos: Wow. Big, beautiful colt stands at his webbing like he’s expecting Jerkens to pay a toll. “This is a nice 2-year-old of Centennial’s. By Cairo Prince, he’s getting pretty close. He’ll run back home. He’s made great strides in the last few weeks.”
Delta Prince: Royalty. Son of Street Cry and Delta Princess owns four wins, including the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes in June. He just missed running down Voodoo Storm in the Fourstardave earlier this meet. Jerkens introduces him. “This is the horse who finished a close second in the Fourstardave, his name is Delta Prince. He won the King Edward at Woodbine off a long layoff, he ran really fast, the track was very hard but he ran really well. I thought he ran terrific in the Fourstardave, we knew he hated the going but he sure put in a good effort. That late bump at the end didn’t help. He’s probably going to run back in the Woodbine Mile.”
Can You Diggit: Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred walks to the front of the stall and jabs his head into a visitor’s chest. “This is the little guy who won the stake the other day. He’s been hard knocking for a while, he finally got his due the other day. He ran well in the open a other than, I thought if he ran the same race he would be tough.”
Hit The Town Runin: Son of Speightstown fetched $250,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale in 2017. “He shows good ability but he’s very big, his ankles started getting round right away so we backed off him. I don’t think we’re going to send him home. We’ll probably keep him here, probably give him a blister, keep him under tack, give him some roadwork. We like him a lot.”
Illudere: Centennial Farm’s son of Ghostzapper finished fourth in his debut at Belmont Park and again at Saratoga. “On the fence whether we’re going to run him back here or wait for Belmont. We like him pretty good. He had a little bit of a non-sweating issue but he seems to be turning the corner, the cooler weather around the corner should help him.”
Rocketry: Right out of a Munnings painting, the son of Hard Spun is another one who Jerkens introduces like a family member. “This is Rocketry. He ran Wednesday in the John’s Call, a little lackluster for him. I don’t think he appreciated being bogged down on the inside the whole time, he pulled him away but he’s so big and long, he just didn’t accelerate quick enough. He was gaining again at the very end but they had the jump on him because they were out in the clear and he was still down inside. He’s probably a horse you just have to leave out even if you’re losing ground.”
American Guru: Three-for-four in his career, the son of Unbridled’s Song suffered a condylar fracture after a 6-furlong breeze July 29. “This is a real good horse who broke down earlier in the meet, that was a real…that was tough to take. His only loss was by an inch to Voodoo Song. We were working him, getting him ready and he got a condylar fracture. We operated on him. He’s ready to ship, he’ll go back to Canada any day now.”
Three Perfections: Winner of one race from nine starts, Dragon Squared’s 5-year-old is entered Sunday. “He condylar fractured here last year. He’s had one start and was fourth this year.”
House Limit: Owned and bred by Joseph Shields, the son of First Defence has posted five breezes here in preparation for his debut. “He worked in a minute this morning. There’s a 6 ½ furlong maiden race next week. He’s been difficult in the gate trying to get him to behave and break the way you want, but outside of that, he’s definitely ready to run. Hopefully between now and then we can get him a little more settled in the gate.”
Sweet Sting: Adena Springs homebred finished sixth in the Riskaverse Thursday. “She started tying up when we got up here, right on top of a race, then she got rained off the second time, so she hadn’t run for two months, it was time to get her going. She probably wants more than a mile, her only win was going a mile and an eighth in Florida. She ran very well to La Moneda at Belmont, she ran a nice even second.”
Bambalina: By Bernardini out of champion Perfect Sting, the 2-year-old filly could have a big future. “She’s been doing very well. She’ll breeze on the turf Friday (she went 7 furlongs in 1:31.49). She’s close. There’s a 5 ½ but I’m not sure I want to do that, Bernardini-Perfect Sting. I think with one more work under her belt, she can do the mile in the next maiden race.”
Lead Pony: Jerkens points to him in his stall and says, “That’s the pony.” Asked his name, Jerkens yells down the shedrow, “What’s his name again?” One groom yells Bailey. A hotwalker yells Linebacker. He wears Securitiz’s halter.
Shelley Ann: Owned and bred by Phil Birsh, the New York-bred is a full sister to 2015 Wood Memorial runner-up Tencendur. “This is a nice filly, she’s long and lengthy but she’s done very well the last three weeks. She’s probably three weeks away from running.”
Holy Helena: Adena Springs’ homebred daughter of Ghostzapper has won six races, including the Woodbine Oaks, the Queen’s Plate and the Sheepshead Bay Stakes: “This is a nice mare. She breezed (Thursday) morning, she was at Adena in Canada for a month, this was her second breeze. She probably won’t make the stake here or Kentucky Downs, that will be cutting it a kind of close so we’ll have to wait for something back home. She was fifth at Belmont, the idea was to go to Canada for a rest but they said she looked so good when she got there, they ran her on the day of the Queen’s Plate. She finished third, but we’re missing these races because of that. That’s OK.”
Weather Wiz: Son of Tiznow broke his maiden at Belmont in June and finished fourth here. “He made all the pace on a slow track and hung in there pretty good, there’s a race back for him on the 1st.”
Timber Ghost: One of the most impressive maiden winners at the meet, son of Ghostzapper (another one) ripped to an impressive score Sunday. “He ran good and fast. His mother was a real good sprinter of Mike Hushion’s, Harissa. I think he’s a nice horse, who knows, he might go on. Ghostzapper, they usually do, it’s nice to have speed and endurance. I thought he would run well but I didn’t think he would run off the screen and run 9 flat. I would have been really disappointed if he didn’t show up. Everything pointed to him running good.”
Elevenses: Daughter of More Than Ready won the Any Limit Stakes at Gulfstream and just recently returned to the stable. “We gave her a little time. She won a little stakes in Florida and then she didn’t run well in a stake at Laurel so we sent her up to Sugar Maple for the best part of the summer. She’s a three other than, she’s going to be hard to spot, we’ll have to be imaginative. I’d like to try her on the turf one time, get her in an allowance race going seven eighths on the turf at home, I think she’ll like it.”
Rachel’s Blue Moon: Homebred for Chester and Mary Broman, the New York-bred daughter of Bodemeister finished seventh in the Fleet Indian Friday. “She won a nice a other than New York-bred mile before we came up here. We were trying to get her ready for a mile and an eighth. She ran the mile well but two turns…”