10/15/2008 11:00PM

Jerkens awaits heart treatment


Legendary trainer Allen Jerkens is in a Long Island hospital awaiting word on whether he needs heart surgery, the Hall of Fame trainer said Thursday. Jerkens was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon after complaining of shortness of breath.

"I'm doing okay," Jerkens said Thursday by phone from his hospital room at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. "I had this thing a long time ago with my [heart] valve. They wanted to do it awhile ago, but I thought I could get away with it."

Jerkens underwent an echocardiogram Thursday and was waiting to confer with doctors regarding if and when he would have a procedure done.

"Whatever they say I gotta do," Jerkens said. "I'm getting impatient."

Jerkens, 79, has been training for 58 years and is among the top 15 trainers all-time in wins (3,753) and purse money earned ($98.6 million). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975 at age 45, at the time the youngest trainer to receive that honor.

Jerkens, a four-time leading trainer on this circuit, was the Eclipse Award winning trainer of 1973, a year in which he twice beat Secretariat with Onion in the Whitney and Prove Out in the Woodward.