H. Allen Jerkens

H. Allen Jerkens

Anne M. Eberhardt

HOF Trainer Jerkens to Remain at Gulfstream

Longtime fixture in New York plans to make Florida track full-time base this summer.

Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, who first arrived at Gulfstream Park in 1947, says his current plan is to remain stabled at Gulfstream year-round rather than return to New York.

Jerkens, 85, one of Thoroughbred racing's most respected horsemen, has historically spent the winter racing season at Gulfstream before returning to New York for the spring and fall at Belmont Park and the summer at Saratoga Race Course.

"It was based on several things," said Jerkens of his decision earlier the week of May 5 as he sat in a golf cart at Gulfstream during training hours. "I'm getting older, as everyone knows. I'm not unhealthy but I'm not as strong as I used to be. I just made up my mind."

Jerkens, who has saddled 3,851 winners, has 10 horses stabled at Gulfstream. His current plan is to run Davona Dale (gr. II) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) runner-up House Rules in the $750,000 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day June 7. Jerkens said he's not sure if he'll make that trip.

When asked if he'll miss spending time in New York, Jerkens replied; "Of course. It will be hard not going there and it will be hard getting used to the heat down here. But I feel good, and if I have a horse who warrants (going to Saratoga) maybe I'll go."

Of course, Jerkens never had the option to spend the spring and summer at Gulfstream until 2013, when the Hallandale Beach track operated its first summer meeting. After racing just two days a week last summer, Gulfstream is currently racing three days a week.

Jerkens, who started at Gulfstream rubbing horses, was the youngest trainer elected to the Hall of Fame at age 45. His career has been one of the most remarkable in racing, having developed more than 160 stakes winners after saddling his first winner at Aqueduct Racetrack in 1950.

Not only is Jerkens  referred to as "The Chief," but he's been dubbed by some journalists as the 'The Giant Killer' following the memorable upset victories posted over several decades, beginning with Beau Purple defeating Kelso three times, Handsome Boy's victory over Buckpasser in the '60s, and Onion and Prove Out's separate victories  over Triple Crown legend Secretariat in 1973.

At Gulfstream, winners saddled by Jerkens include Devil His Due in the 1993 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. I), Miss Shop in the 2007 Rampart (gr. II), Teammate in the 2006 Bonnie Miss (gr. II), Sensitive Prince in the 1979 Gulfstream Park Handicap, and Any Limit in the 2007 and 2009 Hurricane Bertie (both gr. III) and 2007 First Lady (gr. III).