07/01/2010 11:00PM

Happy 60th anniversary, Allen Jerkens

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Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of Allen Jerkens's first victory as a trainer. It came with the horse Populace in a claiming race at Aqueduct.

"He was a big bay horse.," Jerkens recalled Friday morning at Belmont. "I claimed him from Main Chance Farm, Elizabeth Arden had that outfit. I don't know if he won any more races or not."

Jerkens said he believed he claimed the horse for $5,000 and he won for a tag of $6,500 or $7,000.

"In those days, the highest price was $12,000,'' Jerkens said.

Jerkens, who followed his father into the profession, said he took out his license in 1950 because he turned 21 that April.

"I had about six or seven horses, I was starting to get a little stable together," Jerkens said. "The reason I didn't get a license before then was because my father had the license. I turned 21 that year, that's why I got the license."

Jerkens, 81, celebrated the anniversary of his first win a few days early with Granted Tiger, a horse owned by his assistant Fernando Abreu, who won a second-level allowance race on Thursday. It was the 3,802nd career victory for Jerkens.

Despite being down to just 14 horses, Jerkens has enjoyed a stellar spring/summer meet at Belmont, winning 9 races from 23 starters. His 39 winning percentage is second only to Jimmy Toner's 40 percent (6 for 15) among those horsemen with more than 10 starts.

"We were able to get in some races. We had maidens that were eligible. That little filly of my wife's turned out to be pretty good," said Jerkens, referring to Verse Choir, who has won twice at the meet for Elisabeth Jerkens. "A lot of times your horses are doing good, but you can't get in the races."