By Francis LaBelle Jr.
Even with all of his experience and rightful place as America’s greatest living Thoroughbred trainer, Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens can be wrong.
He was certainly wrong about multiple-stakes winner Any Limit, who he felt would not be the same after suffering a bizarre injury last year. Jerkens suggested to owner Joseph V. Shields Jr. that she be retired. Shields felt she should run as a 5-year-old.
Jerkens’ concern for the daughter of Limit Out stemmed from an injury she suffered last year. To the best of her trainer’s knowledge, she stepped on a shoe and it cut right through her bandage. It took a very long time to heal; in fact, her last race in 2007 was a third in the Grade 2 Vagrancy on June 17. She did not race again until May 17.
In the First Flight, Any Limit broke alertly and settled on the lead under jockey Cornelio Velasquez. An earlier thunderstorm left the track muddy, and Any Limit didn’t seem to mind as she set a pace of 22.58, 45.40 and 1:10.20.
Wild Gams, meanwhile, had settled at the back of the pack and came with a four-wide rally to quickly confront the leader. Any Limit, however, refused to yield and got home in 1:23.86 for her seventh win in 19 starts. She returned $13.60 to win.
“That really made me feel good!,’ Jerkens said. “She could have been retired. Mr. (Jerry) Shields said, `It’s fun to have a horse running.’ I was a little concerned when it started raining, but it stopped in time. There wasn’t a lot of mud flying – it was perfect. The six weeks off made her stronger. It worked out good, and we hope she’ll be good for Saratoga.”
Rite Moment was third, followed by Windy, Akronism, Baroness Thatcher and Ice Cool Kitty, whose entrymate, Looky Yonder, was an early scratch.
FIRST FLIGHT QUOTES
Winning trainer H. Allen Jerkens of Any Limit (No. 7): “That really made me feel good! She could have been retired. Mr (Jerry0 Shields said, `It’s fun to have a horse running.’ I was a little concerned when it started raining, but it stopped in time. There wasn’t a lot of mud flying – it was perfect. The six weeks off made her stronger. It worked out good, and we hope she’ll be good for Saratoga.”
Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez: “Today, she was nice and relaxed. Turning for home, I still had a lot of horse. Three-quarters is a little short for her, and last time, she the filly that out-ran her went too fast. The change in track condition was not a concern. But she was in great condition and ready to run.”