11/07/2006 12:00AM

Rodney Jenkins


Trainer Rodney Jenkins has a record of 11-2-3 from his last 26 starts at Laurel, and the success hasn't come from out of nowhere or by accident. Jenkins, 62, currently trains 70 to 80 horses with divisions at both Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland, and over the course of the last five years he has 18 to 25 percent winners each year with purse earnings anywhere from $1 million to $1.7 million. In 2006, his runners have generated a flat-bet profit for bettors.

"In June toward the end of the Pimlico meet, we stopped on a lot of horses that were just not ready for races at Colonial and Delaware and pieced things together," Jenkins said. "For a period of about two months I had the feeling that we weren't doing that great, but we got ready for this Laurel meet and have had some horses come off the shelf and brought some 2-year-olds to the races ready to run."

Jenkins trains Cahill's Touch, a juvenile colt by Touch Gold, who ran his mark to 2 for 2 with a 3 1/4-length allowance win on Oct. 27. He previously won his maiden by eight lengths and paid $42.60 to win.

"He's a big colt and I had no idea he'd be able to win going 5 1/2 furlongs first time out, and I guess that's why he paid forty-something dollars," Jenkins said. "Looking at him, you'd think he'd want to run two miles, and we stretched him out second time and he won again."

Statistics suggest Jenkins does some of his best work with first-time starters, 2-year-olds, and sprinters stretching out to a route - categories where horsemanship goes a long way. Jenkins began training Thoroughbreds in 1991, following a Hall of Fame career in U.S. show jumping. He retired as the winningest rider in the sport's history.

"I grew up in a world where the caretaking and soundness of the horse were a must," Jenkins said. "I believe in keeping good help at the barn, having good assistants, and placing horses where they belong to win. I take my time with horses and run them when they are ready. I'm proud of my numbers and I will not run a horse that is not fit to perform. I'm a big believer that if you run a horse who is not fit, there is a greater chance of injury."

Devil Crab and Toymaker, both fresh 3-year-olds, recently rewarded Jenkins's patience with blowout maiden wins at Laurel, and figure to climb the class ladder.

"With Toymaker, from the beginning, I thought I had one of the best horses I'd ever had my hands on," Jenkins said of the son of Woodman, who had previously finished second twice from four starts. "As a juvenile, he'd make moves like he would win by 10 and then fold up. We learned he was displacing pretty bad and did a myectomy on him. It certainly has helped.

"Devil Crab battled some soft tissue and ligament problems, and giving him plenty of time helped his cause. He's a different horse right now. I think both colts have always had the talent."

Jenkins points to the career of Running Tide, a 7-year-old gelding, when asked for a career highlight. "We bought him for about $50,000 as a juvenile in training and he began his career with five straight wins, including a sprint stakes and a Grade 3 at Delaware Park," Jenkins said. "It was a very exciting run."