This Week at Saratoga: Allen Jerkens and Old School Conditioning
Breezing 3 days apart, working maidens distances equal to their race debut, last work within 5 days of a race, etc.
The only guy gutsy enough to do something different in this era of copycat conditioners, the legendary hall of famer, Mr. H. Allen Jerkens.
Bold Warrior, 3yo, 3:2-1-0
Race 7, 9F, Curlin Stakes
Saratoga, Friday 29th
July 24th – 7F/1:27
July 22nd – 3F/:36 *rider dumped, workout aborted
July 14th – 7F/1:27
RACE June 29th – 7F/1st/94BSF
June 20th – 6F/1:14
Bella Silver, 3yo, first time starter
Race 6, 6F, MSW 40K
Saratoga, Wednesday 27th
July 22nd – 5F/1:01
July 17th – 4F/:49
July 13th – 4F/:49
June 22nd – 4F/:47
June 19th – 6F/1:17
June 14th – 5F/1:02
Famous for knocking off such thoroughbred legends as Secretariat, Kelso, Riva Ridge, Buckpasser, and Forego – at age 83 Allen Jerkens is still competing on the big stage with lesser known stock. What is the true measure of a superior training job? In my mind, it’s getting the best performances out of the horses you are dealt, pretty much the definition of being known as ‘The Giant Killer’.
Those of you who critique my conditioning methods, and there are many, must keep in mind I am no pioneer – I simply attempt to call attention to the practices of the horsemen of yesteryear – with the belief that if more of today’s best stock was trained in such a manner using the latest technology, we would soon find our next Triple Crown champion and our horses wouldn’t get injured quite so often.
Now, if they change the 3 dirt classics to be run over 10 weeks instead of 5 – then you certainly can condition them like quarter horses with 4F works every 7 days, but that will never be the case in my lifetime (fingers crossed). Keep in mind, at this time 65% of early Derby favorites are injured following the ‘less is more’ approach: https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/animal-kingdom-leads-the-kentucky-derby-trail-of-tears/
In Mr. Jerkens own words from the Eclipse winning piece by Bill Finley entitled ‘Do We Need a Sturdier Racehorse?’:
“The biggest change in racing is that people are of the opinion that you shouldn’t run horses very often,” Jerkens said. “It used to be that if a horse was sound and hadn’t lost any weight from his last race and was feeling well, and if a race came up, you would run them. Now people for some reason think they shouldn’t run. I can’t understand it. I’ve had a lot of horses in my life who won real big races close together. What’s going on, it’s a fallacy.”
-Upcoming book reviews: Training Thoroughbred Horses by Preston Burch, and The Fit Racehorse II by Tom Ivers.
Anyone with comments/questions about these two works are most welcome to send them to me ahead of time, that way I can tailor the review post to address any high points.