For decades, the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes at Saratoga has served as the sprint complement on the Runhappy Travers Stakes undercard. Since its inauguration in 1984, the race has served as a showcase for some of the fastest 3-year-old sprinters in the country.
The race was originally known as the King’s Bishop Stakes and was renamed in 2017 in honor of the late Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. It’s been a Grade 1 race since 1999.
Let’s take a closer look at the six sprinters signed on for this year’s H. Allen Jerkens.
h. allen jerkens memorial stakes
1. Drain the Clock (6-1 morning line odds): Already a four-time stakes winner this year, he won the Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency at Belmont Park in June. He prevailed in a long battle with Jackie’s Warrior to win by a neck. He was a distant second behind that rival in the Amsterdam Stakes last out as Jackie’s Warrior turned the tables in dominant fashion. He’s got speed from the inside, but will likely find himself engaged in another battle with Jackie’s Warrior. Can he find his Woody Stephens form, or will he get run off the track again?
2. Jackie’s Warrior (1-1): He looked like a major Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prospect last year, with three graded stakes wins including two at Saratoga. After some disappointing tries around two turns, he’s been kept at sprints for his last few starts and has excelled. In the Amsterdam Stakes he obliterated the competition, winning by 7 ¼ lengths after setting a very fast pace. He showed plenty of guts in his prior two starts, narrowly missing against Drain the Clock in the Woody Stephens and before that winning a stretch duel in the Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU. He’s a very exciting sprinter and will be tough to beat if he can replicate his Amsterdam performance.
3. Newbomb (30-1): He was certainly impressive in victory last out, taking a first-level allowance at Saratoga on August 7 by eight lengths. He also has plenty of early speed, but it may not be wise for him to go the lead with the aforementioned speed horses on his direct inside. However, in the one race where he didn’t get to the lead, a first-level race two starts back, he stopped badly. This indicates that he might be a need-the-lead type – and against horses like these, that’s not a good thing to be.
Trainer: Kelly Breen; Jockey: Jose Ortiz
4. Following Sea (5-1): One of two Todd Pletcher trainees in here, he made waves two races back, when he won a first-level allowance at Belmont Park by 6 ½ lengths. He ran 6 ½ furlongs that day in a supersonic 1:15.28. In his last start, the 1 ⅛-mile TVG.com Haskell Stakes, he showed speed before backing up. He should be much more effective getting back around one turn. John Velazquez has won this race a record four times, most recently with Mind Control in 2019.
5. Judge N Jury (15-1): He made his first start off a long layoff last out, and soundly defeated a New York-bred allowance field by 8 ½ lengths. He tends to rate just off the leaders and pounce on the turn, which could serve him well if the pace falls apart. If he wins, he’d be the first gelding to win this race since Willy Beamin in 2012. It would also be the first Grade 1 win in the career of Danny Gargan. Luis Saez is currently the leading rider at the Saratoga meet.
Trainer: Danny Gargan; Jockey: Luis Saez
6. Life is Good (8-5): He was the consensus top Kentucky Derby prospect this winter. He broke his maiden impressively at Del Mar in November, held on to win the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park by three-quarters of a length, and then won the San Felipe Stakes by eight lengths. However, he was sidelined with an ankle chip and missed the Triple Crown series. In June, he returned to the worktab for his new trainer, Todd Pletcher. Pletcher briefly considered running him in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx around two turns earlier this week but has elected to bring him back around one turn against some tough sprinters. It’s clear he has plenty of ability, but he’ll have to be at his very best to win his first start in almost six months.
THE PICK: Jackie’s Warrior
LIVE LONGSHOT: Following Sea