(Edited press release)
Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens has two of the five horses entered in the 57th running of the $150,000 Bed o’ Roses Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) April 21 at Aqueduct. He has won the race seven times, most recently in 2004 with Passing Shot.
Jerkens' contenders in the seven furlong race for fillies and mares include Any Limit, the 118-pound co-highweight owned by Joseph V. Shields Jr. The 4-year-old filly won the First Lady and Hurricane Bertie Handicaps (both gr. III) in her first two Florida starts this winter. She was beaten at 8-5 in her last appearance, the Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II), when passed late by Sweet Fervor.
“I always thought she was pretty good, but it seems that she’s better now as a 4-year-old,” Jerkens said. “I just hope she carries her form up here from Florida.”
Hobeau Farm’s Swap Fliparoo also fared well at Gulfstream this winter, winning the Sabin Handicap (gr. III) and hitting the board in a pair of other stakes. The biggest score of Swap Fliparoo’s career came last summer at Saratoga when she rallied from well off the pace to win the Darley Test Stakes (gr. I). Saturday Swap Fliparoo reunites with winning Darley Test jockey Eibar Coa.
“I wasn’t going to run Swap Fliparoo, but it was coming up a small field and if they go fast up front, she’ll have a good chance,” Jerkens said.
Jerkens has trained Bed o’ Roses winners for both his owners with horses in the race Saturday. Hobeau Farm owned Beauful and Shields owned Passing Shot.
When asked what he thought about having a chance to win his eighth Bed o’ Roses, in a typical response Jerkens said, “I hope we can do it.”
Last year’s Bed o’ Roses winner, Magnolia Jackson, will attempt to defend her title against the Jerkens duo. In her last start, the Distaff Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), the Ted Taylor-owned mare failed to finish in the top three for the first time since October 2005. Trainer Gary Contessa blamed himself for the defeat.
“She should have gone to the lead last time,” Contessa. “I know the pace was fast, but she broke on top and should have stayed there. I can’t blame (jockey Ramon Dominguez) because all we talked about all week was taking her back, but she spent a lot of time fighting him. She’s the kind of horse that can rate fine if she does it on her own and the rider doesn’t make her rate.”
Despite the loss, Contessa is still very high on the 5-year-old daughter of Cape Canaveral.
“She’s trained great and she’s just as good going into the race this year as she was last year,” the trainer said.
Magnolia Jackson, co-highweight at 118 pounds, will be ridden by Alan Garcia. Contessa said the instructions for Garcia would be to let the filly run how she wants this time.
Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Carmandia comes into the Bed o’ Roses off a two-month freshening after finishing fourth in the Barbara Fritchie Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel behind stablemate Oprah Winney. Carmandia won the First Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct last fall.
Livermore Valley will be the longest price in the group with a couple of runner-up finishes in minor stakes on the inner track this winter.
Field for the Bed o' Roses (gr. II), $150,000, Aqueduct, April 21, seven furlongs:
PP. Horse, trainer, jockey, weight
1. Carmandia, Richard Dutrow Jr., Mike Luzzi, 116
2. Livermore Valley, Jimmy Ryerson, Jose Lezcano, 114
3. Magnolia Jackson, Gary Contessa, Alan Garcia, 118
4. Any Limit, H. Allen Jerkens, Rafael Bejarano 118
5. Swap Fliparoo, H. Allen Jerkens, Eibar Coa, 116