Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
Allen Jerkens was all smiles Sunday morning outside his barn, where Emma’s Encore was resting after
giving the Hall of Fame trainer his first Grade 1 victory since Miss Shop took
the Personal Ensign in 2007.
“It’s always nice when you go home and you know the next
year there’s going to be a jockey statue in front of the
clubhouse,” said the 83-year-old Jerkens, referring to the tradition of
honoring the Spa’s Grade 1 winners by having their silks painted on the jockey
statues surrounding the fountain by the entrance.
A bay daughter of Congrats who fetched only $2,000 as a yearling,
Emma’s Encore arrived in Jerkens’ barn at Gulfstream
Park over the winter, having finished
off the board in three starts as a 2-year-old at Hoosier
Park, Kentucky Downs
“All I know is the van man said, ‘You have a horse coming
in,’” recalled Jerkens. “She looked OK. We were in no
position to turn anybody down, anyway. It’s like I said all my life, with
any of them, you never know what’s going to happen.
“Some of the ones you expect to be good never run, and others
surprise you. I didn’t think [multiple graded stakes winner] Devil His
Due was much of a horse until he started running. And I didn’t think Miss
Shop would amount to much, either, and she won a Grade 1. You take what you can
In her first start for Jerkens on February 2, Emma’s Encore was
off a step slow but came on to finish third in a $50,000 maiden claimer at
Gulfstream; three weeks later she broke her maiden facing Florida-breds and
next rallied from seventh to take an optional claimer on March 14.
“The second race she won in her life, she was shut off pretty
good, but she still made it,” said Jerkens of Emma’s Encore, who
earned her first graded stakes when she pulled off a 39-1 upset of the Grade 3
Victory Ride on July 7 at Belmont
The Prioress was also Jerkens’ first win of the meet, but the
trainer said he was not sure if Emma’s Encore would return for the Grade
1, $500,000 Test on August 25.