Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial has attracted a strong field of nine - eight in search of their first Grade 1 and one looking to add another to his resume - in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course.
The 34th running of the race, formerly the King's Bishop, will begin the Travers Day stakes action as race 6 of the 13-race card.
||Still Having Fun
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
||George Arnold, II
Mr. Amore Stable's multiple graded stakes winner Firenze Fire will make his 12th start for trainer Jason Servis following a resounding nine-length victory in the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont Park on July 7. Earlier this year the Poseidon's Warrior colt finished fourth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack and subsequently was 11th in the Kentucky Derby.
The Florida-bred is the only starter to own a Grade 1 victory, which he delivered as a 2-year-old by closing stoutly to win the Champagne on October 7 at Belmont Park by a half-length over Good Magic. It will be his first start at seven furlongs since his freshman year, when he was fourth in the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 4.
"Everything's going good," Servis said of Firenze Fire, a winner of five of his 11 career starts and $834,000. "He worked OK the other day, he got a good freshening after the Derby, and it showed in the Dwyer. We've been wanting to shorten him up."
Firenze Fire will break from post 8 and be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Trainer Dale Romans will saddle a pair of speedy colts, led by Voorheesville, New York native Robert J. Baron's multiple graded stakes winner Promises Fulfilled, who returns off his impressive 3 ¼-length victory over Engage in the Grade 3 Amsterdam on July 28 at Saratoga.
The victory was his second graded stakes win, and first since he wired eight others in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 3 at Gulfstream. In his two previous Grade 1 starts, the Shackleford colt was ninth in the Florida Derby and 15th in the Kentucky Derby.
"This race is going to be a little bit tougher [than the Amsterdam], but that was a pretty awesome performance," Romans said. "He's done nothing wrong since and he's trained well every day, so I think we'll see another big effort out of him."
Romans will also have West Point Thoroughbreds' Seven Trumpets, second in the Dwyer, leaving the gate for his first start at Saratoga. The son of Morning Line posted two bullet works in the lead up to the Jerkens, going five furlongs in 59.93 seconds on August 5 and in 58.44 on August 11 before turning in a more leisurely half in 50.99 on Sunday.
"He worked real fast, freaky fast," Romans said. "He's good to go, and you've got to send them both. I work for two owners, right?"
Promises Fulfilled draws the rail and will have Luis Saez in the irons. Seven Trumpets will run from post 5 and will be ridden by Robby Albarado, Jr.
Woodford Racing's Engage looks to turn the tables on Promises Fulfilled after finishing as the runner-up in the Amsterdam. In their first meeting, the colt by Into Mischief finished second behind Still Having Fun in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on June 9 at Belmont Park, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Promises Fulfilled.
First or second in all seven career starts, Engage's lone graded stakes win came in the Grade 3 Futurity at Belmont Park last fall. He breezed a half-mile in 48.02 last Friday for the Jerkens.
"He had a nice work, I was real happy with the way he's coming in," said the meet's leading trainer, Chad Brown, of Engage, a $550,000 2-year-old in training purchase. "It's coming up pretty tough, but he's doing well."
Stonestreet Stable's Telekinesis will cut back to sprinting after four route efforts since his debut earlier this year when he broke his maiden by 3 ¼ lengths in a six-furlong run at Fair Grounds. The Ghostzapper colt most recently finished fifth in the Queen's Plate at Woodbine behind Wonder Gadot, coming on the heels of his victory in the Plate Trial Stakes on June 9 going 1 1/8 miles for trainer Mark Casse.
"We've always had some concerns with how far he wanted to go," Casse said. "He's extremely fast and we think the cut-back will suit him. He's training well and it's a Grade 1, so we're going to try him."
The Ontario-bred's lone graded stakes try came in the Grade 3 Lexington on April 14 at Keeneland where he was caught at the wire by My Boy Jack.
Telekinesis will start from post 2 with Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano in the saddle.
Zayat Stables LLC's Irish-bred Gidu will make his dirt debut after seven career starts on grass. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Frankel looks for his first graded stakes victory while returning from his fourth-place finish over yielding turf in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 3 at Saratoga. It was the colt's first race since his sixth-place finish in the six-furlong Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Gidu debuted at Saratoga last summer with a runner-up finish behind multiple graded stakes placed Snapper Sinclair before returning and breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park. This year, he finished a head short and settled for second in the Grade 3 Dania Beach at Gulfstream before taking the Columbia at Tampa Bay Downs.
Gidu draw post 6 and will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
Valene Farm's Givemeaminit was second in his debut at the Spa last year and then was third in the Grade 1 Hopeful. He has one with to date, an eight-length maiden-breaking score at Fair Grounds in January, and will make his 11th stakes start for trainer Dallas Stewart. Givemeaminit will run from post 4 and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Wachtel Stable's Still Having Fun makes his Saratoga debut for Maryland-based trainer Timothy Keefe. The Old Fashioned colt enters off a solid win over Engage and Promises Fulfilled in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont on June 9 at Belmont, his first graded stakes score. Still Having Fun breaks from post 7 and gets Joel Rosario aboard.
Calumet Farm's Funny Duck, winner of the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on May 5 at Churchill Downs, drew post position 9 and will have Brian Hernandez, Jr. in the saddle.
2018 Allen Jerkens Memorial Pre-Draw Notes
Dale Romans looks to hold strong hand in G1 Allen Jerkens
Multiple graded stakes winner Promises Fulfilled will make his second start of the Saratoga meet in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy after his strong 3 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Amsterdam on July 28.
On Sunday, the 3-year-old colt, owned by Voorheesville, New York native Bob Baron, breezed four furlongs in 47.66 seconds over the fast main track for trainer Dale Romans.
"This race is going to be a little bit tougher, but the Amsterdam was a pretty awesome performance," Romans said. "He's done nothing wrong since and he's trained well every day, so I think we'll see another big effort out of him."
The 3-year-old Shackleford colt ended his 2-year-old year with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on November 25 at Churchill Downs after winning both of his first two career starts.
He started his sophomore campaign winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 3 at Gulfstream Park in gate-to-wire fashion, then finished ninth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 31 at Gulfstream Park, where he appeared washed out before tiring.
After finishing a tiring 15th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs, his home base, the chestnut was sent north to Belmont Park, where he finished third behind prospective Jerkens Memorial foes Still Having Fun and Engage in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard June 9.
Romans will also saddle West Point Thoroughbred's Seven Trumpets. The 3-year-old by Morning Line breezed a half-mile in 50.99 seconds over Saratoga main track Sunday morning and is still in search of his first graded stakes victory.
After winning two races from three starts at 2, the Kentucky-bred returned to miss by a half-length in the mud to Firenze Fire in the Jerome on January 13 at Aqueduct in his sophomore debut. He was off the board through three straight Grade 3 starts, the Southwest on February 19 at Oaklawn Park, the Sunland Derby on March 25 at Sunland Park and the Stonestreet Lexington at Keeneland, in which he finished seventh, fourth and fifth respectively.
His lone victory this year came in the slop at Churchill, where he won a $100,000 conditional claimer before finishing as the runner-up behind Firenze Fire in his nine-length romp in the Grade 3 Dwyer on July 7 at Belmont Park.
Monday morning, trainer Mark Casse said his Ontario-bred Telekinesis will make his sixth career start in the Jerkens, cutting back to a sprint for the first time since his debut earlier this year when he broke his maiden by 3 ¼ lengths going six furlongs at Fair Grounds.
The 3-year-old colt by Ghostzapper fell short by a head to My Boy Jack in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Lexington on April 14 at Keeneland before heading north to Woodbine where he won the Plate Trial Stakes on June 9, before tiring to fifth in the Queen's Plate Stakes, both at 1 1/8 miles and 1/14 miles respectively.
After shipping up to Saratoga from Churchill Downs, the Stonestreet Stables-owned Telekinesis maintained her strong, steady worktab and breezed a half-mile in 50.55 over the fast main track last Friday.
"We've always had some concerns with how far he wanted to go," Casse said. "He's extremely fast and we think the cut back will suit him. He's training well and it's a Grade 1, so we're going to try him."