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Allen Jerkens

Nicknamed “Giant Killer” (which he does not like) for the many upsets of champion horses Mr. Jerkens has orchestrated, and “Chief” for his remarkable horsemanship and knowledge. His given name is Harry. Mr. Jerkens has been involved with horses his entire life. His father, Joseph, was a captain in the Austrian cavalry before emigrating to the United States. Mr. Jerkens was going to the barn with his father, who took care of H.T. Peters' polo ponies, hunters and jumpers, when he was a pre-schooler. Later his father bought a riding academy and would always fool around with an old racehorse. Mr. Jerkens wanted to be a jockey but grew too big. During the summer of 1945, at the age of 16, he galloped horses for trainer Steve Lawler at the old Aqueduct Racetrack. The following year, Mr. Jerkens tried steeplechase riding on horses his family owned. He did not return to school after he turned 16. He and his father went into business together at Aqueduct. The Jerkenses started with five horses, some of which they acquired in a sheriff’s sale. Mr. Jerkens got his license in 1950 at the age of 21. An owner named Larry Gottlieb offered him some horses to train. Joseph Jerkens died in 1951. His first winner was Populace at Aqueduct on July 4, 1950. In 1975 at the age of 45, Mr. Jerkens became the youngest trainer elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Racing.