03/24/2014 2:37PM

Gulfstream Park notes: House Rules coming along well for Gulfstream Oaks start

Barbara D. Livingston
House Rules, who has made steady improvement under trainer Allen Jerkens's guidance, will start in Saturday's Gulfstream Oaks.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – At 84, Allen Jerkens moves a little slower and has considerably fewer horses in his barn than he had when he last won the race now known as the Gulfstream Park Oaks with Teammate in 2006. But “The Chief” still knows what to do when he gets his hands on a good horse, one like House Rules, who could have Jerkens back in the winner’s circle after the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on Saturday.

House Rules, a 3-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor, is owned by Jerkens’s longtime client Joseph V. Shields Jr. House Rules came to Gulfstream Park a maiden last fall but made steady improvement under Jerkens’s guidance over the winter. After winning her maiden by nearly six widening lengths going a mile to open her 2014 campaign in January, House Rules returned to finish second behind the undefeated Onlyforyou in the Grade 2 Davona Dale.

Onlyforyou, who would have been the odds-on favorite for the Oaks, suffered a fatal injury during a routine workout on March 15. That leaves the race wide open, with House Rules likely to rule the public’s choice in what is projected to be a small field on Saturday.

[Clocker Reports: Get Mike Welsch’s clocker reports from Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows]

House Rules turned in her final prep for the Oaks in typical Jerkens fashion on Monday, working seven furlongs from the six-furlong pole in 1:28.12 under regular rider Alex Solis. House Rules began at a leisurely pace, covering her opening three-eighths in 39.34 seconds before picking up the pace when given the cue down the stretch. She completed her final half-mile in 48.78 seconds before galloping out a mile in 1:43.43.

“She’s bred to be a nice filly and she’s gotten a little better each time she’s run,” said Jerkens. “It would be nice if she could win this race. Mr. Shields has always been good to me. He spends his money and has always been grateful when he’s been able to do some good. It would also mean a lot to me to be able to win a race like this at Gulfstream at this stage of the game. Years ago we were able to do it a lot more often.”

Teammate won the Bonnie Miss Stakes, which was renamed the Gulfstream Oaks in 2011. Jerkens also won the Bonnie Miss in 2002 with Dust Me Off.

Jerkens said he has the option of heading in one of two directions with House Rules if she were to perform well in the Gulfstream Oaks, either to the Kentucky Oaks or the prestigious series for 3-year-old fillies in New York.

As of Monday, only four other fillies – America, In Tune, Joint Return, and Penwith – were confirmed for the Oaks, which will be drawn on Wednesday.

◗ Gulfstream Park will offer a promotion giving fans the opportunity to select which jockey they think will win the Florida Derby. Those who select the winning rider will be entered into a drawing for the grand prize, which is a table for two at the 2015 Florida Derby. The contest will begin shortly after entries are drawn on Wednesday for Saturday’s Florida Derby. Details on the contest are available at gulfstreampark.com.