Jimmy Jerkens walked from one end of his low-roofed barn to the other, stopping at each stall to talk about each occupant. With every stop, Jerkens began, "This is..." A man of few words, Jerkens, like his Hall of Fame father Allen, knows his horses, talking about one whose appetite is getting better, one who has a rub from a martingale and another who tries hard every time. (Editor's note: Originally published in Aug. 20 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
"We don't have 80 horses or 100 horses but the ones we have are all nice," Jerkens said, as he talked about his 24 horses at Saratoga (he has another eight at Belmont Park).
Thursday morning, The Special's Sean Clancy listened and took notes as the horses urged assistant trainer Kent Sweezey to hurry up with the feed cart.
Can You Diggit: A New York-bred 2-year-old by Tiznow for Chester and Mary Broman. "He just worked a nice half out of the gate this morning, he'll run before the meet's over. He's out of Mineralogist, remember her? (She won four stakes for the Bromans). He acts like he's OK."
Delta Prince: A beautiful bay colt, he stands at the front of the stall like he's listening to the tour guide. "This is a 3-year-old of Adena Springs', he's a half-brother to Royal Delta, by Street Cry. Christophe (Clement) had him, he got him real close to running, I don't know exactly what happened, but he had to send him home and then he got sent to me. He's had a couple of works. He won't run here, but hopefully not too long after we get back to Belmont."
American Deluxe: Yet to start, the son of Melbourne Cup winner Americain is a half brother to Jerkens' Travers winner, V. E. Day. "I like him, he acts like he's OK. We're going to work him on the turf, see how he handles it, just for the hell of it (5 furlongs in 1:05.02). He handles the dirt fine. Same body type as V. E. Day."
American Guru: An Adena Springs homebred, the 2-year-old son of Unbridled's Song has posted five breezes thus far. "I'm going to back off him just a little bit, he's gotten awful hot and tough to gallop since his last work, I might take a step back on him, just let him settle down."
Macho Dancer: Another Adena Springs homebred, the son of Macho Again has breezed six times so far. "He's out of Harissa, a nice filly sprinter Mike Hushion had. They came up together, he's not quite as forward as the Unbridled's Song, but he's getting there."
Jay Gatsby: Part of the Stable Tour last year, the half-brother to War Front had made five starts in France and was readying for his American debut. Since then, he's won twice and just missed in the Fasig-Tipton Lure. "This is a real nice little horse, he got beat a dirty nose in the Lure, he had a rough trip, he's usually much more prominent in the early stages of the race, he didn't come out of there running like Junior (Alvarado) thought, he took him back so he could save some ground, which was good. He made a big, sweeping, wide move, it looked like he was going to hang from that big move, then, God, he got a second wind and came on again. He's really developed nice for us, slowly but surely. We're thinking about the Bernard Baruch."
Manipulated: Broman homebred broke his maiden in the Rockville Centre Stakes last year. "This is a nice colt, he was second in a stake up here last year and then he busted his knee all up, he had surgery, he's been away for a year now, but he's doing real good, had a good work this morning (5 furlongs in 1:02.33). Hopefully we can run him before the meet ends, hopefully, he can make that."
Securitiz: A son of Tiznow, he broke his maiden in the fall, won an allowance at Gulfstream and finished second in the Flat Out Stakes in May. "He's in Friday, he was disappointing a little bit last time, he should be a little better." (He finished second in a non-winners-of-three allowance).
Rocketry: A $450,000 purchase, he's breezed 3 furlongs four times at Belmont Park before coming to Saratoga. "By Hard Spun, a 2-year-old of Centennial's, nice, big colt, he's starting to come around."
Effinex: The star of the stable. "Somebody told me he got a better (Ragozin) number than Frosted, I guess because of the ground he lost, that makes me feel good. I liked the fact that he was still making ground at the very end like a true mile and a quarter horse, he gave himself a little breather because he was chasing a fast pace all the way and then he was coming again. You have to nominate to the Woodward, but we might skip it and go to the (Jockey Club) Gold Cup, the mile and a quarter is better for him but at the same time, it will be two months between races."
Cloontia: William Lynn's homebred won two in a row before finishing fifth here August 8. "He went off favorite, he ran very well, he only got beat 2 lengths, he finished fifth, he broke kind of slow and he wasn't on the lead like he's used to, he ran pretty good, he's a half-brother to Wicked Strong."
Three Perfections: A son of Shakespeare, he finished seventh in his debut here August 6. "He ran sneaky good the first time on the turf, he didn't get beat far and he was wide the whole way, it looked like a good maiden race. I'm planning on running him back a mile and an eighth on Travers Day."
Ordinaire: The New York-bred broke his maiden at Belmont and finished third on the turf August 11. "He ran pretty well the other day, he broke his maiden going 7, we wanted to stretch him out but we didn't want to go a mile and three sixteenths, but he ran well. He lost the nod for second but he hung in there tough. We might run him back on Travers Day."
Adulator: Centennial Farm's son of Flatter won here August 12. "He trained very well and he ran to it. He worked a nice mile before the race. Johnny (Velazquez) looked like he had an arm full of horse all the whole way, he got a great trip, saved ground, got through and staved them off."
Unforeseeable: Chester Broman purchased the son of Unbridled's Song as a yearling for $550,000. "He's a head case, but he's coming around. He's been difficult in the gate, he would probably be ready to run if he didn't have the gate issues, he's a lot better."
Shaman Ghost: A son of Ghostzapper, he won four in a row for Brian Lynch before joining Jerkens this year. "This is a nice horse, he won the Brooklyn for us, he ran back in the Suburban but got stuck on a deep rail the day Effinex won. We're going to try to make the Woodward."
Summer Reading: Stakes-placed daughter of Hard Spun is entered today. "She runs dirt or turf, she's got good races and bad races on both surfaces. Her best race was probably a second in a restricted stake, beaten a half length to Lightstream. She's OK."
Juba: Son of Tapit has won three races, he finished fourth here August 8. "This is the Twitter star. His last race wasn't bad, he set a fast pace and couldn't keep up with Kenneally's horse and he continued on to be fourth. He'll knock that condition out sooner or later. I might try to stretch him to a mile when we get home."
John's Island: A winner of five races, the New York-bred finished seventh in the Morrissey earlier in the meet. "He's a nice old gelding who comes from the clouds. The two old guys who owned him passed away two weeks from each other in December. Shirley and I and a good friend, Jack Shelley, bought him from the estate."
Accepting: Purchased for $700,000 by Joe Allen, the daughter of Speightstown has yet to run. "She had a good work this morning. She's out of a sister to Arch. We had some little problems with her tying up and she was a bad non-sweater but she's a lot healthier now than when we first got her. We're kind of excited about her."
Saharan: Daughter of Desert Party finished fifth earlier in the meet. "She broke her maiden in an off the turf maiden in the slop. She ran back in the race Summer Reading was second in, she was fourth. I tried to stretch her out and that didn't work, she got real rank and ran bad. She's a pretty filly and she can run."
Feeling Bossy: A homebred daughter of Courageous Cat for Emily Wygod. "She won a couple in a row and was fourth right before we came up here. We're going to run her next week in the same kind of race."
Truth: The turf filly won earlier in the meet. "We'll probably run her in the Riskaverse. She's long and slight, just like her mother, Triune, she was a string bean."
Unbridled Juan: Three-time winner finished third here earlier in the meet. "I just sent him home to freshen up for the fall, he's been running hard all year."