Late-Developing Abaan Takes On Maker Quartet In Friday’s H. Allen Jerkens Stakes

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Alex Daigneault’s Abaan will be outnumbered in the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream Park Friday when the Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old gelding will take on four Mike Maker-trained rivals in the two-mile turf race honoring the memory of the legendary Hall of Fame trainer.

The late-developing son of Will Take Charge will also be making his stakes debut while conceding experience to the well-tried Maker trainees in the Race 10 feature on a 10-race program.

Following a three-race juvenile campaign with a pair of runner-up finishes at Churchill Downs, Abaan has demonstrated marked improvement this year after being privately purchased and transferred to Pletcher. Since switching from dirt to turf, the Kentucky-bred has won twice and finished second twice. In his most recent start, Abaan register a front-running two-length victory in a 1 3/8-mile optional claiming allowance at Aqueduct Nov. 14.

Luis Saez has the call on Abaan.

Paradise Farm Corp. and David Staudacher’s Ajourneytofreedom tops the Maker contingent. The multiple graded stakes-placed son of Hard Spun finished fifth in the John’s Call and won a 1 ½-mile optional claiming allowance at Saratoga in his two most recent non-graded stakes starts.

Paco Lopez is scheduled to ride the 4-year-old gelding for the first time in the Jerkens.

Michael Ryan’s Bluegrass Parkway, who finished third in the 1 ½-mile Point of Entry at Belmont Park last time out; Three Diamonds Farm’s Jarreau, who finished second behind Abaan in the Nov. 14 optional claiming allowance; and Paradise Farm Corp. and David Staudacher’s Malthael, a 1 ½-mile optional claiming allowance winner at Keeneland two starts back; will also represent the Maker Stable Saturday.

Bloom Racing Stable and trainer Ignacio Correas IV’s Fantasioso looms as a strong contender looking to his second-place finish in the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup (G2) in June. Rice Racing’s On Base, trainer Marcy Brooks’ Cheyenne’s Colonel, San Jose de Ecuador and Luis Duco Stable Inc.’s Nixon Joy, round out the field.

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