Allen Jerkens is the youngest trainer to have been elected to racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga, N.Y. It didn't hurt that his mounts have had much success as giant killers, upsetting horses thought to be invincible.
Saturday, he will be in the unfamiliar role of sadding one of the favorites for the $100,000 added Governors Gold Cup at Bowie when he sends off Sensitive Prince, sinner of eight out of 11 starts and more than $200,00.
Despite the unquestioned success of Sensitive Prince, the bay 3-year-old has been one of the big disappointments of Jerkens' career by not winning one of the Triple Crown races.
The son of Kentucky Derby winner Majestic Prince had won sic straight going into this year's Derby but went bad just before that classic. Jerkens could not hide his disapointment that a Triple Crown race again and eluded him.
He rested Sensitive Prince for two months and, after a tightener in the Marylander at Pimlico, sought revenge against Affirmed, winner of the Kentucky Derby.
Sensitive Prince led to the shadow of the wire in Saratoga's Jim Dandy, only to be nipped on the money by Affirmed. His next two starts were winning races in the Jerome Handicap and Hawthorne Derby. The latter race saw him break the track record for 11/16 miles and finish just off the world mark set by Swaps.The Jerkens magic was again at work.
Stable foreman Andy Desernio has worked with Jerkens for 20 years.
He said of him: "The man has know how and a sixth sense with a horse. I've always worked with the best and Jerkens is special."
How special is part of the record. Starting with Admiral Vee, a lowly claimer which developed into a cup horse, to Beau Purple, thrice conqueror of the mighty Kelso, Jerkens has shown his speical kind of wizardry.