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Jerkens looking to shake seconditis
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Perhaps if Allen Jerkens had not been training for more than 50 years, the meet-long case of seconditis he is experiencing this winter at Gulfstream Park would get to him more than it has.
But the Hall of Fame trainer, who ranks 10th all-time in wins with 3,644 (according to Equibase) is taking things in stride. After Grecian Lover finished second to Dubai Escapade in Friday's feature race, Jerkens had finished second with 15 of his first 37 starters at this meet. He had only two wins and was on an 0-for-26 skid since Jan. 21. That doesn't include the 0 for 7 his Aqueduct barn had experienced since that time.
"It usually evens out," Jerkens said Friday morning while sitting in his truck outside his Gulfstream Park barn. "A couple were near misses, a couple of seconds were beaten a long ways. Some were in stakes; that helps the value of horses a little bit. Unless you're gambling, three seconds is like a win."
Perhaps no horse in his barn typifies Jerkens's meet more than Teammate, who will run in Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. In her first start here, a one-mile allowance race, Teammate was beaten a head. In her next start, the Davona Dale, she was beaten 14 lengths by Wait a While in a race that was run over a sloppy track.
"She was getting a lot of mud in her face," said Jerkens, who turns 77 next month. "She was hemmed in along the inside and that had to deter her. It was the only day where the track was like that, so it's hard to say what happened."
Teammate, who will get Lasix for the first time on Sunday, is a regally bred filly. She is by A.P. Indy out of the turf stakes-winning mare Starry Dreamer - who finished second 11 times out of 31 starts. Teammate is a half-sister to Ecclesiastic, whom Jerkens won the Jaipur with last year.
Jerkens is also running Miss Shop in the Forward Gal, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday's card. Miss Shop, a daughter of Deputy Minister, has won on both turf and dirt, and is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Gaily Gaily Stakes on turf in her last start. Sunday, she returns to the dirt for the first time since last fall.
"We're taking a shot and see what happens," Jerkens said.
Swap Fliparoo, whom Jerkens had nominated for the Forward Gal off a second-place finish in the Old Hat Stakes, is being pointed to the $100,000 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct on March 18.
War Front, who finished second in the Deputy Minister Handicap here on Jan. 7, is training toward a start in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.
By then, Jerkens hopes he will have turned a few of these seconds into wins.
Barbican hurts, Dubai Escapade helps
Friday was a day of ups and downs for trainer Eoin Harty.
On Friday morning, Harty had to break the news that his top Kentucky Derby prospect Barbican would be sidelined indefinitely after suffering a small fracture in the sesamoid bone of his right hind leg. Several hours later, Harty's fortunes took a turn for the better when his fleet filly Dubai Escapade won the afternoon's main event.
"Devastated" is the way Harty described his feelings after learning of Barbican's injury.
"When you get a 3-year-old of that quality at this time of year, you get excited, your help gets excited, your wife gets excited, everybody gets excited," Harty said. "It just shows you how fragile these young horses can be. He went five furlongs in 1:04 yesterday. I was already making plans to fly back here next Monday to put a good seven-eighths into him. You'd never expect him to suffer an injury like this during a slow work like that. Fortunately, it's not career-ending and by the grace of God he'll be back by the end of summer."
Barbican had won 2 of his first 3 starts and was scheduled to make his stakes debut in Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes on March 18.
Dubai Escapade, Madcap Escapade's baby sister, led throughout Friday under jockey John Velazquez en route to her third straight victory. Despite going off as a 1-5 favorite she was fully extended to hold off runner-up Grecian Lover while making her first start at a mile.
"I totally expected her to get tired at the end because the weather kind of fouled up her training, and I was wondering if I had done enough with her coming over here today," said Harty. "She got the last eighth of a mile on class rather than my training."
Kelly's Landing nearing return
Kelly's Landing, who set a Churchill Downs track record for six furlongs last year, is working swiftly toward a return to the races. On Thursday, he worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at the Palm Meadows training center, his seventh work of the winter and his third consecutive bullet move.
Kelly's Landing has not run since finishing sixth in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga last August. He came out of that race with a chip in a knee that required surgery.
"He's worked well over the last five or six weeks," trainer Eddie Kenneally said earlier this week at his Palm Meadows barn.
Last summer, Kelly's Landing won the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs, running six furlongs in 1:07.59, a track record.
Sis City on the comeback trail
Like Kelly's Landing, Sis City has been sidelined since last August. Like Kelly's Landing, Sis City is working at Palm Meadows as she gears up for her 4-year-old campaign.
Sis City, who won the Grade 1 Ashland last year, breezed four furlongs in 49 seconds on Monday at Palm Meadows, her second breeze of the month. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Sis City is probably six weeks away from a return to the races.
Dutrow said he plans to breeze Sis City on the turf a couple of times to see how she would handle that surface.
"She's bred up and down for it," he said, noting that Sis City is by Slew City Slew out of a Beau Genius mare. "We'd be stupid not to try it. I'll breeze her a couple of times on the grass. If she really takes to it, then I'll search for a grass spot."
Dutrow said "if everything goes down like clockwork" Sis City would likely return to the races in mid-April.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch