Though trainer Allen Jerkens may not like his "Giant Killer" nickname, the moniker is unlikely to go away as long as he keeps sending out high-priced winners in high-class races. Jerkens struck again Sunday when jockey Jean-Luc Samyn guided Shine Again through a gap along the rail at the top of the stretch and held off a late run from Country Hideaway to win Sunday's $250,000 Ballerina Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga. The 21-1 longshot returned $44.20, $13.80, and $2.10 and led an exacta worth $169.50.
"The field was coming up short and that was one of the reasons we decided to run," said Jerkens. "She had such a big workout the other day and I thought now was the time to take a chance. We hit a home run for the filly's dam (Shiner) and her breeding prospects."
Jerkens earned the nickname with a string of upset victories. His Beau Purple upset the legendary Kelso on three occasions in 1962-3. He also sent out Onion and Prove Out to upsets over Secretariat in 1973 and Wagon Limit over Skip Away in the 1998 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I).
In light at 113 pounds, Shine Again raced in fourth early on while on the rail, moved up into contention on the turn, then got the jump on 1-2 favorite and 122-pound co-highweight Dream Supreme when that rival was forced wide heading into the stretch. Country Hideaway closed well from last to pick up the place spot, finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Dream Supreme. Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Spain came home 3 1/2 lengths behind the favorite and a length ahead of Imadeed, who set the early fractions while under restraint from Gary Stevens. Shine Again completed the seven furlongs in 1:22.33 on a fast track.
"It's great winning a Grade I race in Saratoga. It's extra special," said Samyn. "She does have a lot of speed but with Imadeed in the race there was no need to go head-and-head early on. Down the backstretch she really grabbed a hold of the bridle and I knew she would be tough. It was a good trip. We were able to save ground. There were some great fillies in there and my horse dug in gamely. I'm very proud of her."
Country Hideaway paid $5.40 and $2.10 and Dream Supreme returned $2.10 to show
The win marks the first in a graded stakes for the 4-year-old daughter of Wild Again, who also has wins in the restricted Chip Stakes and Geisha Handicap to her credit. Since winning the Geisha Handicap in April, Bohemia Stable's homebred Shine Again raced twice prior to Sunday, finishing third in both the Genuine Risk Handicap (gr. II) and Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). She earned $150,000 for the win, her seventh in 15 starts.
"We might try to go for the Ruffian (gr. I, Sept. 15)," said Jerkens. "If you're getting crazy, you might as well stay crazy." (Chart, Equibase