He’s got a horse named Blind Luck, and if Jerry Hollendorfer believes in good fortune, he must have been happy to learn where his filly would be staying for her time at Saratoga.
The wise folks at the New York Racing Association lodged Blind Luck back in Barn 7, where Allen Jerkens and his horses have stabled for years, the barn from which Jerkens stabled his own Alabama winners: November Snow in 1992, Sky Beauty in 1993, and Society Selection in 2004.
Barn 7 has already proved lucky for filly shippers this meet: two weeks ago, Ronny Werner’s Secret Gypsy stayed in the Jerkens barn before winning the Honorable Miss, a race that Jerkens won in 1994 with Classy Mirage and in 2008 with Any Limit. That 2008 win was Jerkens’ last stakes win at Saratoga.
If Hollendorfer had been looking for signs, he might have been gratified to wake up yesterday and see that Sky Beauty winning the Alabama graced the cover of the NYRA program.
He might have crossed his fingers as he thought about Secret Gypsy coming in and winning a stakes race from Barn 7.
He might have stroked a rabbit’s foot as he talked with the man who trained Sky Beauty and who can never talk about her Alabama win without saying, “We got so lucky that day…”
Or maybe he knew all along that all the luck his filly needed was in her name.
Last entering the final turn, Blind Luck went to the middle of the racetrack to swoop around the field: five wide coming into the stretch, she made thrilling look easy as she picked up horses, dug in, and vanquished her final competitor within strides of the wire to win by a neck.
In this year’s Alabama, we got the kind of race we can only hope for. The fillies went slow early and fast last; they maintained position for nearly a mile and an eighth, and at the sixteenth pole, three fillies were running for the win. They thrilled us in the stretch and at the wire.
I suspect that Mr. Jerkens was watching the race from his home or in a restaurant, or maybe back at Barn 7. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he were rooting for his lodger when Hollendorfer’s filly began to move around the turn.
Between the two of them, Hollendorfer and Jerkens have been training horses for nearly 100 years. Hollendorfer has more than 5,000 wins, Jerkens more than 3,500. They shared a barn this week, and now they’ll forever share a page of racing history.
For now, Jerkens has two things that Hollendorfer doesn’t: an Eclipse Award and a spot in the Racing Hall of Fame. One can hope that that Luck is about to change.