Value Engineering Returns Fast Dividends in H. Allen Jerkens
__HALLANDALE BEACH, FL __– Making his first start for Michael Hui, Phil Forte and trainer Michael Maker, Value Engineering returned fast dividends with a victory in the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream Park.
The Jerkens, which honors the memory of the beloved Hall of Fame trainer, was transferred from turf to Tapeta and cut back is distance from two miles to 1 5/8 miles due to an early afternoon rainstorm.
Purchased for just $35,000 at the Keeneland November Horses of Racing Age Sale, Value Engineering was also making his first start on an all-weather surface after racing exclusively on turf and compiling a record of 3-2-7 in 15 starts.
“I was hoping it would stay two miles, which was my concern more than the surface change,” said trainer Michael Maker, who also trains runner-up Wicked Fast. “A Lemon Drop Kid out of a Dynaformer mare says two miles.”
Value Engineering ($12) managed to get the job done at 1 5/8 miles under a perfectly rated ride by Jose Ortiz, who rated the former Chad Brown trainee a few lengths off pacesetter Basso, who cleared the field from the outside post to run the first half-mile in 52.48 seconds. Basso continued to show the way along the backstretch under Junior Alvarado while stalked by Sole Volante on the outside and 2-1 favorite Another Mystery on the inside with Value Engineering looming in fourth on the outside.
Sole Volante took over on the far turn but was quickly joined by Value Engineering on the turn into the homestretch with stablemate Wicked Fast in pursuit. Value Engineering kicked in through the stretch to draw away to victory by 1 ½ lengths in 2:43.01.
“I thought the race was devoid of speed except for the outside horse [Basso],” Maker said. “He [Value Engineering] had good position and kicked on when it counted.”
Wicked Fast also gave a solid stretch kick to finish second under Miguel Vasquez, three-quarters of a length ahead of Barberini, who made a strong inside drive to finish third under Jorge Ruiz.
Another Mystery faded in the stretch to finish sixth. Agitare, the 5-2 second choice, broke awkwardly from the gate before fighting jockey Julien Leparoux’s efforts to get him to settle while racing extremely wide, finishing in seventh.
Value Engineering was comfortable over the all-weather track while racing three-wide, inside the rank Agitare, Ortiz said.
“He broke well. It doesn’t matter if he was going to take to the Tapeta or not. He was traveling good every step of the way. Passing the wire ,the horse outside of me [Agitare] kind of showed me he wanted to move, so I decided to go ahead and take the position I did, and I was three wide all the way around but I felt like I had a lot of horse,” Ortiz said. “When we hit the half-mile pole, I just asked him a little bit and he was there for me. I was very comfortable.”
Maker said Value Engineering may return in the $200,000 John B. Connelly (G3) Jan. 28 at Sam Houston or remain for at Gulfstream for a stakes.