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H. Allen Jerkens

H. Allen Jerkens
Induction Year: 
April 21, 1929, Islip, N.Y.
March 18, 2015
Career Years: 
Number of Starters: 
Number of Winners: 
Winning Percentage: 

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In a career that spanned from 1950 through 2015, Allen Jerkens won 3,859 races and earned the respect and adoration of his peers and multiple generations of race fans.


Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975 at the age of 46, Jerkens ranked 11th all time with 3,859 wins and 14th in earnings with $103,754,915 at the time of his death.


The son of an Austrian cavalryman, Jerkens was born April 21, 1929 in Islip, N.Y. He sent out his first winner, a horse named Populace, July 4, 1950 at Aqueduct Racetrack and earned his first stakes win at Jamaica Race Course in New York with War Command.


In the early 1960s, Jerkens began training for Jack Dreyfus’ Hobeau Farm, beating Kelso three times with the Dreyfus-owned Beau Purple. In 1973, Jerkens defeated Secretariat twice — with Onion in the Whitney at Saratoga Race Course and with Prove Out in the Woodward at Belmont.


Known as “The Chief,” Jerkens won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 1973. The New York Turf Writers’ Association named him outstanding trainer in 1957, 1962, 1973, 1992 and 1994. In 2001, the National Turf Writers Association honored him with the Mr. Fitz Award, named for legendary trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons and given to the person who “typifies the spirit of racing.”


Jerkens won a total of 14 training titles at the New York tracks, including four at Saratoga, where the New York Racing Association named its annual training title for him in 2010. He led the New York circuit in wins in 1957, 1962, 1966 and 1969.


Jerkens’ lone Hall of Fame horse is Sky Beauty, a 2011 inductee. Owned by Georgia E. Hofman, Sky Beauty won the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Female in 1994. She won the Triple Tiara in 1993, sweeping the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama, all Grade 1 events. Sky Beauty also won the Adirondack Stakes, Matron Stakes, Acorn Stakes, Ruffian Handicap, Shuvee Handicap, Hempstead Handicap and Go for Wand Stakes.


Other graded-stakes winners trained by Jerkens include Devil His Due, who won the Wood Memorial and Gotham, as well as consecutive runnings of the Suburban in 1993 and 1994; Classy Mirage, winner of the Ballerina and Prioress; and Kelly Kip, winner of the Tremont, Sanford and Bold Ruler. In 2004, Jerkens won both the Test and the Alabama with Society Selection, who also won the Comely, Frizette and Shuvee.


Jerkens’ final Grade 1 win came in the summer of 2012 when Emma's Encore won the Prioress at Saratoga. Jerkens achieved his final stakes win at Saratoga in the summer of 2013 when Go Unbridled won her second consecutive Saratoga Dew. Overall, Jerkens developed more than 160 stakes-winning horses.


Other notable victories for Jerkens include the Alabama Stakes (3), Ballerina Handicap (3), Bold Ruler Handicap (3), Brooklyn Handicap (4), Carter Handicap (2), Comely Stakes (4), Delaware Handicap (2), Diana Handicap (2), Gazelle Handicap, Gulfstream Park Handicap (2), Jockey Club Gold Cup (3), Man o’ War Stakes, Matchmaker Stakes, Personal Ensign (2), Pimlico Special Handicap, Shuvee Handicap (5), Suburban Handicap (4), Test Stakes (3), Top Flight Handicap, Whitney Handicap, Wood Memorial and Woodward Stakes, among others.


Jerkens died March 18, 2015 at the age of 85 in Aventura, Fla.