Jimmy Jerkens & Centennial’s Don Little Jr: Family, Adversity, & Wicked Strength

Jimmy Jerkens & Don Little Jr. Photo credit TRC

Jimmy Jerkens & Don Little Jr. Photo credit TRC

In early 2009, trainer Jimmy Jerkens was flying high – if such a phrase could be used to describe a man better known for shying from the spotlight than for grabbing headlines. He had married his high school sweetheart the year before, and he had a barn full of fast horses, including a brilliant colt named Quality Road, who on the strength of wins in the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby was headed to Louisville as a likely favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

Then, Quality Road developed a quarter crack that would keep him out of the Kentucky Derby, setting off a downward trajectory for the Jerkens barn that lasted four years and left the trainer wondering about his future in horse racing.

“I was nervous about it,” he admitted this week, talking outside the barn at Belmont Park which houses Wicked Strong, the talented colt he is training for Centennial Farms toward a start in the Belmont Stakes. “But at the same time, I said, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’ I don’t know anything else.”

Continue reading at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary

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