The H Allen Jerkens Stakes could not be more different than the Jerkens Memorial, but The Chief will be fondly remembered either way.
The Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga is a Grade 1 for 3-year-old sprinters; the Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream is a listed event at two miles on the grass. The handicapping angle that ties them together is that it takes class to win either.
Consistency, however, is in short supply when one considers today’s trip and so company lines will matter here. And Ajourneytofreedom (9-2) has been competitive in virtually every manner of graded races attempted at disparate distances.
This year he has picked up checks in four graded races but the one that sticks out here was his show finish in the two-mile G2 Belmont Gold Cup over yielding ground which hasn’t proven to be his favorite going.
To finish third at that level, with the same spacing her enjoys here, is an accomplishment considering he never saw the wood at any time. If you doubt that, check out his run at Belmont Park, JUN 4, Race 10. And despite all that, he kept running at the wire.
As previously noted, the spacing coming into this is good, the Mike Maker workouts have been purposeful–plenty of sharp five furlong drills–and Paco Lopez understands the virtues of saving ground, especially on the Gulfstream lawn.
One of three in her for Maker, and considering that the white hot Todd Pletcher saddles a likely loose leader with Luis Saez in the boot, the price should be fair.
We’re taking Ajourneytofreedom to win at 7-2 or greater and an exacta box with the Pletcher “speedster,” Abaan (4-1).