04/30/2010 11:00PM

Blind Luck gives Hollendorfer third Oaks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Jerry Hollendorfer leaned to his right, his body language fairly screaming to his filly, Blind Luck, as the trainer watched the Kentucky Oaks on a large-screen television above the paddock at Churchill Downs. Blind Luck came to the finish right alongside Evening Jewel, the margin in doubt right to the very end.

"Did we get it?" Hollendorfer asked, before stopping to watch a replay, and doing the Hollendorfer lean once more. After a second viewing, he was more confident. "I think we got it," he said.

Hollendorfer has won more than 5,000 races, and two previous runnings of the Kentucky Oaks, so it probably was not a surprise that when the result was posted on the tote board minutes later, The Dorf was right - again. Blind Luck ($4.60), the favorite, had gotten up in the last jump to nose out Evening Jewel, another California-based filly, in a thrilling running of the before an Oaks-record crowd of 116,046.

"It was really nice, since she did get the bob there at the wire," said Hollendorfer, who owns Blind Luck along with Mark DeDomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo. "They all mean a lot. But this race is very special. It's the best race for 3-year-old fillies."

Evening Jewel finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Tidal Pool. Beautician was fourth and was followed, in order, by Ailalea, Amen Hallenlujah, Crisp, Quiet Temper, It's Tea Time, Joanie's Catch, Champagne d'Oro, Age of Humor, Jody Slew, and Bella Diamante.

Blind Luck completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:50.70.

The finish mirrored the result of the Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita in February, in which Blind Luck also beat Evening Jewel by a nose. As on that day, Blind Luck won by rushing past all her rivals. But at Santa Anita, there were only four to pass. At Churchill Downs Friday, she roared past 13 other 3-year-old fillies under jockey Rafael Bejarano, who was winning the Oaks for the first time.

Bejarano took Blind Luck four paths wide on the final turn and was fanned five wide into the stretch, but the Churchill Downs main track seemed to be favoring outside lanes on Friday.

"I saw a lot of speed in the race," Bejarano said. "I tried to leave her alone in the beginning. She broke kind of slow a little bit, like she does always. From the five-eighths, I had to make a little middle move to get into position before the second turn, because my filly was really far back early.

"As soon as I came into the stretch, and pulled her into the clear, I knew she would kick. It was a really tight race in the end, but I knew I had it. She showed me a big kick in the stretch, but the other horse was still running strong. My filly, she always fights."

Blind Luck has now won 7 times in 10 starts, and has won 4 of her last 5. Even though she was nominated to the Triple Crown, Hollendorfer always insisted she would be pointed to the Oaks, not the Kentucky Derby, a decision DeDomenico supported.

"What if she had to come around 20 horses?" he said.

Hollendorfer said no decision had yet been made on where Blind Luck would run next.

Blind Luck, a daughter of the one-eyed stallion Pollard's Vision, was purchased privately by Hollendorfer and his partners after a debut win against maiden claimers last June at Calder. She has been based in California since then. In her only other start outside California, Blind Luck won the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 2.

Hollendorfer had won the Oaks with Lite Light in 1991 and Pike Place Dancer in 1996. Despite being the fourth-winningest trainer of all time, he was left off this year's Hall of Fame ballot when it was announced this week, even though he has been on it in prior years.

"These things aren't up to me," Hollendorfer said.

"Jerry should be on that ballot," DeDomenico said. "He should be on that ballot the next time it comes around."