Jerkens was a fixture on the New York circuit for 63 years, ever since winning his first race at Aqueduct in 1950. His decision to remain in Florida after the 2013-2014 winter season left an unsettling vacancy among the ranks of New York horsemen. He'd been as much a part of New York racing as the canoe in the lake at Saratoga and the grandstand at Belmont. Now his absence is permanent. Other trainers and their stock will fill the stalls he once occupied, but no one can fill the place he held in others' hearts and memories.
Jerkens' kindness was just as legendary as his training ability. He was never one to talk much about himself but always one to quietly lend a helping hand where it was needed. The horsemen and horsewomen he mentored along the way learned a lot about horses, and even more about how to be a great human being. The lessons he taught are timeless, and sorely needed in a world that would rather take shortcuts than do things right.
It wasn't a "giant killer" but a giant that the racing world lost today. Farewell, Chief.