Features

Pick a dark day, that’s what we’ve learned. It’s the best time to ask Jimmy Jerkens for a Stable Tour. Hands-on like his Hall of Fame father, Allen, Jerkens will take his time if there is time, that goes for the tour and for his training. (Originally published in Aug. 25 issue of The Saratoga Special)

Jerkens walked his shedrow with The Special’s Sean Clancy last week.

Centurion: Long-time client Centennial Farm owns the 2-year-old son of Pioneerof The Nile. “Got up to a half-mile and got a little sick like most of them did here, in my barn anyway. He acts OK. He’s got a lot of action, but it’s funny, he jacks his hocks up kind of high but it doesn’t seem to stop him any. He’s out of a Langfuhr mare of the Phippses. We like him.”

Plan Of Attack: Joe Allen bred the son of War Front who has breezed eight times at Saratoga this summer. “I’ve worked him on the dirt and turf. He has pretty good and not so good works on both surfaces, so I don’t know. He looks more like turf to me. His grand dam is Volga, she was a good turf mare. His mother is by Street Cry. I can really see some Street Cry in him with his length. He just got OK’d from the gate, I’ll probably run him at the end of the meet here on the turf or the beginning of Belmont, I’m not quite sure yet.”

Mihos: Centennial Farm’s runner won the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park in January before finishing fifth in the Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull. Freshened after that, the son of Cairo Prince returned to finish fourth in the Dwyer and sixth in the Jim Dandy. “He started reacting negatively to the kickback, he ran up against it the first time fine but for some reason ever since then he hasn’t dealt with it. Some horses will stick their head out and get away from it but keep running but he loses 3 or 4 lengths every time. I worked him on the turf last week and I thought he worked nice. I was going to work him again but they canceled, but I kind of said, to hell with it, I’m not going to run him up here dirt or turf, we’ll wait for Belmont. I would like to try him seven-eighths or a mile on the Widener Turf to get him back going. Not only that but he started to run down, you don’t see that much any more, his last two races he ran down pretty good, that’s another reason to try the turf. It’s worth a try. I thought his race in the Dwyer was a decent effort, his Jim Dandy wasn’t any good.”

Rocketry: Centennial’s veteran makes another appearance in the Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour. “This is our old marathoner. Watch him, he’ll bite (standing behind cone). He’s very easy to train, but he is a biter. He’s been good, he ran really, really hard in the Brooklyn and just got beat. I ran him back in the Suburban which probably wasn’t a good idea, I think as a re sult, he was a little flat in the Birdstone, we’ll freshen him up a little bit and take a shot in the Temperence Hill, I don’t know if they even call it that any more. It’s a logical spot. That or the race at Parx, the Greenwood. He was so slow early in his career, his only shot was turf. I ran him a mile at Gulfstream, I couldn’t believe how good he ran, he didn’t hit the board, but he was flying at the end. He broke his maiden, he won an a other than, a two other than, but in the better races, when he got stopped, he doesn’t have the acceleration to get back into the thick of things, it was hurting him. Johnny (Velazquez) said, ‘It doesn’t pay to save ground with this guy because once you get stopped, you can’t get him going again.’ I said, ‘we can’t afford to run in these better races and be five wide all the way.’ This was up here last year. But he started finally breezing nice on the dirt and I said, ‘What the hell, we might as well try him on the dirt.’ And he galloped, then he won in Kentucky, just as easy. We’ve kept him on it ever since.”

Somes Sound: Son of Ghostzapper finished 10th in debut here for Shortleaf Stable. “I thought he would come out of there running and he showed good speed in his only start on Whitney Day but he backed up pretty good. I’m going to try him again in the next 6-furlong maiden race here. He’s heavy. He had a real good work since then, maybe he’ll run a little better.”

Hard Sting: Stronach Stable’s homebred son of Hard Spun has made two starts in his career. “First time he ran very green going 6 on the turf, finished up a little bit but got beat a long way. The last time, he ended up on the lead, which I didn’t think he would, and got a little tired just inside the sixteenth pole, looked like he was going to hang in there for third. He got sick since then. He’s doing good now. He had a good work, he’ll probably run at the end of the meet.”

Candygram: Centennial’s 4-year-old owns three wins from 11 starts. Finished second in State Dinner at Belmont Park in July before finishing ninth in the Alydar. “He was running really well for me and ran bad in the Alydar and got real sick. He’s back on his feet now but I think we’re going to send him down to Middleburg and pick up before we go to Florida. We still might keep him here and crank him back up because he’s doing so well again. We’ll decide on that.”

Klickitat: Shortleaf purchased the son of First Samurai at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred Sale in 2017. “He’s in Friday (finished fifth). He ran earlier in the meet and got beat a head, he ran every direction but straight. He broke from a bad post and ended up between horses and got sulky and dropped back, but then Junior (Alvarado) got him back going again and he just missed.”

Preservationist: Aptly named, Centennial has preserved the son of Arch through five wins and probably as many layoffs. The 6-year-old won the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park in July before fading to fourth in the Whitney earlier this meet. He’s aiming at the Woodward next weekend. “That was a big thrill for him to win the Suburban. I didn’t agree with Junior’s tactics last time, he took a shot, he rode to beat one horse (McKinzie) but that never seems to work. Breaking from the outside and getting the lead, they don’t settle after that. When he won the Suburban, he fell out of the gate in front and let the other horse have the lead, there was a lot more rhythm to that race. He got a little upset before the race, he will get hot, but there’s so many more people, it just worked him up a little bit. He probably wasn’t at his very best.”

Ethos: A rare 2-year-old sales horse for Centennial, the son of Ghostzapper graduated from the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-year-old sale. The gray colt will catch your eye walking the stable area. “He’s out of a daughter of Meghan’s Joy, Happy Now. He was racy from being at the sale so he went to the farm. They said he lost a little bit of conditioning but he got it back and when he was getting his act together he came up to us here. He’s up to a half-mile.”

Green Light Go: The big horse. Stronach’s 2-year-old colt is 2-for-2 with a win in The Saratoga Special. Perhaps, his groom Junior McFarlane said it best, “He is everything. Trust me.” As for Jerkens, “We were going to skip the Hopeful, but I don’t know. It seems like a long time to sit on a horse and wait for the Champagne. The Hopeful is a Grade 1 again. We’ll probably run him in the Hopeful rather than the Champagne. He was impressive in a quiet way, you weren’t expecting it, he showed a lot more lick in his works than we thought he would, being by Hard Spun and he looks a little clunky, but he’s anything but. He’s got the real strong gaskin, he’s got great leverage.”

Magic Mojo: Centennial purchased the son of Uncle Mo at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale. The 2-year-old colt has breezed four times here. “He shows pretty good ability. He got a little puncture wound in his ankle, we lost a little bit of time but he was starting to lighten up a little too quick so it was probably a blessing. He was getting a little racy. He’s not OK’d from the gate, but it shouldn’t take long.”

Shelley Ann: Phil Birsh’s homebred owned in partnership with Philip Levine stands across her stall and chews on a vertical board like she’s working in a sawmill. “New York-bred filly who was running well, but her last race was bad in a stakes so we stopped with her and sent her home. She’s doing really good now. She’s a two-other than. (Wife) Shirley’s been getting on her every day, she’s doing a great job with her. And she’s going to chew her way through to the next stall.”

Meet Me In L A: Stronach homebred 3-year-old has a win from three starts and is the favorite in today’s ninth race. “He’s been a pleasant surprise. He had a lot of problems as a 2-year-old, they sent him to me in Florida. He was fourth first time out, ran really good, got into a lot of trouble. Then he was second to Highest Honors. Then he didn’t run quite as good, he hung just slightly and got beat a neck but was rewarded the win, the horse came into him a little bit. He popped a little splint on the outside of the right cannon bone, it looked like it was bothering him a little bit, we settled that down.”

Life On Top: Another Centennial 2-year-old purchase, the chestnut colt has breezed five times at the meet. “He’s at the same stage as Mojo and Centurion. He’s by Carpe Diem. He looked a little softer than the other two when he got here, but he’s starting to get some tone to him now. He’s been a little slow learner at the gate but he’s starting to get the hang of it.”

Advanced Strategy: Gainesway Farm, who owned one of Jerkens’ Travers winners, Afleet Express, sent the New York-bred son of Karakontie to Jerkens. “He’s a hardy little guy, he’s been a very slow learner at the gate. We broke him the other day and he broke really slow with a horse of Tony Dutrow’s. We galloped him out the other day, he almost ran the guy over, I would imagine the next time he breaks, he’ll get his card.”

Overland: A $150,000 purchase at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale, the son of Flatter has run three times, finishing fourth, third and second. “He was second off the turf. His mother was turf, we’ll eventually try the turf, probably when we get home. He had a little reputation, Brad Cox used to have him, he would refuse to train. They sent him to Ocala, they got him going, he was fine for us, no problem, until after he ran. But we have him on the right track now. Seems like backing him up and turning him around doesn’t work, you pretty much have to go straight off. He did pull himself up working by himself one day, but he will work in company.”

Striking Beauty: Stronach-bred 2-year-old filly by Curlin finished fifth in her debut Sunday. “She didn’t run too badly. She looked like she was making a little move and the dirt pounded her pretty good, she got a little discouraged. We like her. She’s OK.”

Four Ten: You can’t look at this gelding without thinking about Jerkens’ father, the Hall of Famer, The Chief. “This is a horse who has been a little bit of a disappointment. By Curlin out of a good mare my father had for Mr. Shields, Any Limit. The first time, he ran awful, never got involved, almost was eased. Then he ran a decent third going 7, to a horse who everybody thinks his good, then I stretched him out and he went way faster than he should have, stopped all over the place.”

Lord Of The Nile: Stronach homebred by Pioneerof The Nile out of Lady Dyna, a daughter of Tapit, is readying for his debut. “He wasn’t showing much at all on the dirt. He worked very well on the turf.”

Gloriously: Daughter of Mucho Macho Man has run twice at the meet, finishing seventh in her debut and fourth behind highly-regarded Sharing in a maiden taken off the turf. “She disappointed a little bit. She looked like she was in business in the middle of the turn. The winner slipped inside her and took her out a little bit, she gave up the ghost after that. We might give her a go on the turf.”