04/16/2014 1:04PM

Allen Jerkens enjoying son's Kentucky Derby run

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Barbara D. Livingston
Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong is trained by Jimmy Jerkens, son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Allen Jerkens doesn’t have a Kentucky Derby horse, but he does have a big rooting interest in the race: Wicked Strong, who is trained by Allen’s son Jimmy and rallied to beat Samraat and Social Inclusion in the Wood Memorial.

The Wood represented a big turnaround in form for Wicked Strong, who finished ninth in the Grade 2 Holy Bull and fourth in an optional-claiming race here in his two previous starts. Wicked Strong came from sixth place to win the Wood by 3 1/2 lengths over Samraat.

“I felt a little confident the way he was moving in the Wood, and then for a split second, when he turned for home, it looked like that was as far as he was going to get,” Allen Jerkens said. “And then, all of a sudden, he came on again. He seemed to be in a bad frame of mind, somehow, when he ran down here this winter, but I felt pretty good before the Wood after they showed a picture of him on the television and he looked pretty happy with his pony.”

Jerkens, who has a dozen horses bedded down locally, including the top 3-year-old filly House Rules, said he hasn’t had much discussion with his son since the Wood.

“He’s got enough on his mind without talking to me,” he said. “But if he needs some advice, he knows he can always call.”

Jerkens said he remains undecided whether he’ll return to Belmont this spring or remain stabled at Gulfstream Park.

“Right now, we’re scheduled to head north at the end of the month,” said Jerkens, who is pointing House Rules to the Acorn Stakes on Belmont Day. “But if they were to make a deal with Calder and run four days a week here, I’d considering staying.”