Updated on 09/17/2011 10:34AM

N.Y. breeding: Team Jerkens hits jackpot with Spite the Devil


Spite the Devil's win in the $150,000 Withers at Aqueduct on May 3 was a family affair in every sense of the word.

A 3-year-old New York-bred, Spite the Devil is trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens and owned and bred by Jerkens's wife, Elisabeth. Allen Jerkens also trained Spite the Devil's sire, Grade 1 winner Devil His Due, and the colt's dam, Samantha D.

Spite the Devil, who is not nominated to the Triple Crown, was expected to run in Saturday's $200,000 Peter Pan at Belmont Park.

Spite the Devil set the stage for a spectacular day for New York-breds by winning the Grade 3 Withers, a little more than one hour before Funny Cide stormed his way into the history books by becoming the first New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The one-mile Withers was Spite the Devil's first stakes win, after several in-the-money finishes in graded and restricted stakes, including third-place finishes in both the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 2 Sanford as a 2-year-old.

Spite the Devil, who was born and raised at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y., also was the runner-up to Funny Cide in two restricted stakes at Belmont Park last year, the Sleepy Hollow and Bertram F. Bongard.

Elisabeth Jerkens said the Withers win was particularly satisfying because when her husband was hospitalized during the winter of 2001 with a severe case of pancreatitis, the first thing he told the media when he went back to work was that he wanted to win a stakes for his wife.

"This was the first stakes win for me since he has been out of the hospital, so it broke the ice," said Jerkens, who also bred and owned Kings Fiction, a stakes winner in Florida and New York in 1995. "It was just wonderful."

Jerkens races under Hardwicke Stable, a name she selected because she has enjoyed reading about the life and times of Bess of Hardwicke, a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I.

Jerkens has been breeding horses for nearly 40 years and owned a breeding farm in Michigan when married to her first husband, a surgeon.

"I just love the breeding business, especially the mares, who I want to hold onto for dear life." Jerkens said. "I've always been fascinated by gene pools. Some of our mares weren't great runners, but they had pedigrees I liked and I now have a couple of their daughters. I have my favorite horses. I have a mare, Love By the Hour, who is by Apalachee, whom I like. I love Graustark and anything with Ribot in it."

Jerkens's broodmare band numbers 15 and includes Spite the Devil's dam, Samantha D, a daughter of Cryptoclearance. Allen Jerkens had trained an older full brother to Samantha D, Pytchley, who showed some talent but was unsound. Elisabeth Jerkens said that when the opportunity arose to privately purchase Samantha D, she jumped at the chance.

Jerkens raced Samantha D three times before losing the filly through the claim box for $20,000 at Calder. Jerkens, who loved the filly's breeding, was determined to get Samantha D back and seized the opportunity when the filly was in for a $10,000 claiming tag at Delaware Park. Instead of keeping Samantha D in her husband's New York barn, Jerkens decided to place the filly on an easier circuit. She was sent to Jerkens's Maryland trainer, Mike Rea, who also breaks the Hardwicke yearlings.

Samantha D, who is now 8, had an undistinguished racing career and won only one race - an $8,000 maiden claimer - in 20 starts. Jerkens, however, was more interested in what the filly could do in the breeding shed.

So far, Samantha D hasn't been a disappointment. Her first foal is Spite the Devil, who has earned $244,415 and has a record of 3-3-3 in 12 starts.

Samantha D's next two matings also were to graded stakes winners trained by Allen Jerkens. Samantha D has an unraced 2-year-old New York-bred colt named Wagon Clearance by Wagon Limit, a Grade 1 winner for owner Joseph Shields in the late 1990's. The mare also has a New York-bred yearling filly by Kelly Kip, an exceptionally fast sprinter for Hobeau Farm who stood his first season in New York at Highcliff Farm this year. Samantha D produced a 2003 foal by New York sire Mighty Magee and recently was bred to 1997 Travers winner Deputy Commander.

The majority of Elisabeth Jerkens's homebreds are New York-breds and she keeps most of her homebreds to race in the Hardwicke Stable's blue and white silks.

Jerkens said her husband is too busy training horses, including about 10 Hardwicke runners, to become heavily involved in the breeding operation.

"I always ask his opinion and he says, 'It's up to you,' " Jerkens said.

If Spite the Devil is any indication, it looks like Elisabeth Jerkens is making the right decisions.