DEL MAR, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2014) -- David Jerkens, currently the racing secretary at Northern California’s Golden Gate Fields, will relocate to Southern California in early June and assume the role of racing secretary at Del Mar, it has been announced.
Jerkens, 35, is being brought on at Del Mar to strengthen the racing department headed by Tom Robbins, the track’s executive vice president for racing and industry relations, as well as its long-time racing secretary. Robbins will continue to work out of the seaside track’s racing office, but will turn over the racing secretary duties there to Jerkens so he (Robbins) can dedicate more time to other track assignments, including several national and international projects and committees that demand his attention. Additionally, Del Mar will hold a second fall meeting this year covering the month of November, putting more requirements on the track’s racing office and its personnel.
“With the shift in the racing scene in Southern California and the racing picture in general across the country, the racing product has become more important than ever before in our business,” Robbins noted. “Bringing on an enthusiastic and multi-talented racing man like David Jerkens to make us even stronger on the horse side became just about a necessity.”
Like Robbins, Jerkens comes from an illustrious racing family. The native New Yorker is the son of Steve Jerkens, a New York-based trainer who is one of the four children of Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, a racing legend known by the nickname “The Chief” and more so for his array of stakes winners over the past half-century and his repeated conquests of seemingly invincible racing stars like Kelso, Buckpasser and Secretariat. David Jerkens’ uncle, Jimmy Jerkens, is also a trainer of note with a pair of Breeders’ Cup wins to his credit.
David Jerkens worked as a backstretch assistant to his father growing up, then attended college in New York and Florida before returning to the track in the New York Racing Association’s racing office in 2000 as an entry clerk. Over the next five years he worked his way up to placing judge and stakes coordinator before heading west to serve as assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator for Sean Greely, then the racing secretary at Golden Gate Fields. At the end of 2011 Jerkens was named the Bay Area track’s racing secretary.
“David is going to be a wonderful addition to our crew at Del Mar,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper. “He’s a bright young man with a great feel for the game. His family history and his experience both back east and in California will translate well to our racing office. I know our horsemen will find him a first-rate guy to work with.”
The current 101-day Golden Gate Fields meet is scheduled to run through June 15. Jerkens will write his final condition book for that session in mid-May. He and his wife, Abby McKee, presently live in the heart of San Francisco and are looking forward to relocating to the San Diego area.
Since its founding in 1937, Del Mar has had nine previous racing secretaries. Robbins has had the longest run in that role with 25 summer seasons scheduling the track’s programs, starting first in 1981.