Competitive Field Comes Together for H. Allen Jerkens Stakes
If you’re a fan of marathon races held over distances rarely seen in North America, then you won’t want to miss Saturday’s $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream Park.Named in honor of the legendary Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, the race is held over a distance of two miles on the turf course, and since so few races are annually held over that distance in North America, the H. Allen Jerkens tends to draw an intriguing and competitive field without a clear-cut favorite.
The 2017 renewal is no exception. Eight horses have been entered, but only two have ever run over this distance, with the most prominent being Bullards Alley, who finished sixth in the Belmont Gold Cup (gr. III) last summer. Two starts back, the Tim Glyshaw-trained gelding won the 1 ½-mile Canadian International (gr. I) by 10 lengths over a soft course at Woodbine, then wasn’t beaten much when sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) at Del Mar. If he can maintain this high level of form while stretching back out to two miles, Bullards Alley could be difficult to beat.
English Illusion is the only other entrant with experience over two miles, having finished eighth in this race last year with a troubled trip. Trained by Daniel Vella, English Illusion has been running on the Tapeta track at Woodbine as of late, but did record respectable finishes against quality competition when second in the Halton Stakes and fifth in the Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. I) on turf during the summer.
Another stakes-quality competitor is Infinite Wisdom, winner of the 1 5/8-mile John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga. The son of Smart Strike has a strong pedigree for long-distance racing, but must rebound from a disappointing last-place finish in the 1 ½-mile Sycamore Stakes (gr. III) last time out.
Hailing from the barn of Shug McGaughey is Gold Shield, who enters off an allowance win going 1 3/8 miles on the turf at Aqueduct. The son of Medaglia d’Oro is consistent, but will be trying an extended marathon distance for the first time.
Rounding out the field are Infobedad, runner-up in the 1 ¾-mile Marathon Stakes (gr. II) on dirt at Del Mar; El Kurdo, an accomplished runner in Ecuador; and Honovi and Run Time, both of them winners over the turf course at Gulfstream Park.
Post time for the H. Allen Jerkens is 2:05 p.m. Eastern.