Saratoga has not been kind to Allen Jerkens lately. In 2009, he went winless at the Spa; last year, his lone win came near the end of the meet, on the day before his son Jimmy won the Travers with Afleet Express.
So it was with relief, joy, and more than a little nostalgia that fans of the Chief watched as Precious Soul took command at the head of the stretch in yesterday’s fifth race, giving Jerkens his first win this year with a 6 ¼ length victory in an allowance race.
Welcome though any victory is, particularly when they are rare, this one might have been particularly sweet. Joining Jerkens in the winner’s circle was Irving Cowan, one of his longtime owners; Cowan also bred the winning filly, who is by Distorted Humor and out of Love That Jazz.
Cowan bred the filly’s half sister, too, who made something of a splash at Saratoga. Society Selection raced here four times, breaking her maiden in her first start and winning the Alabama and the Test in 2004.
“This means an awful lot to me, and I’m sure that it makes an awful lot of difference to him, too,” he said, nodding at Jerkens.
Cowan sold Society Selection last fall at Keeneland; in foal to Medaglia d’Oro, she sold for $1.85 million to Coolmore. Below, video of the sale, with Society Selection’s stretch run in the Alabama.
“She’s got a few nice foals,” said Cowan. “I’ve got a picture of her in Ireland where she’s got a magnificent Medaglia d’Oro by her side.”
Cowan has two mares and a colt by his stakes-winning filly; one of them, Superior Selection, made life interesting for Jerkens two summers ago at Saratoga.
Precious Soul won by two and a half in her début, at Gulfstream in March. She was then fourth at Belmont, and third here at opening day. The Chief expects that she’ll run here again before the meet is over.
“I think eventually she’ll go a distance, probably on the grass, too,” he said.
Ever laconic, he didn’t have much to say about the win. “It feels good,” he offered, surely an understatement.
But the grin on his face as stepped in the winner’s circle said much, much more.