12/30/2010 12:52PM

Cathy's Crunches appears formidable in California Oaks

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Cathy's Crunches seeks her fourth consecutive stakes victory at Golden Gate Fields in the California Oaks.

ALBANY, Calif. – Jerry Hollendorfer has enjoyed success with 3-year-old fillies throughout his career, including victories by Lite Light, Pike Place Dancer, and Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks, and is favored to win this year’s Eclipse Award for 3-year-old fillies with Blind Luck.

On New Year’s Day, he will send out the 3-year-old Cathy’s Crunches, who is likely to be the odds-on favorite against four rivals to win the $100,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields. The winner of the 1 1/16-mile race will be the first filly to begin the qualification process for the Black-Eyed Susan $2.2 million bonus. To earn the bonus, the California Oaks winner would also have to win the Santa Anita Oaks on March 5, the Gulfstream Park Oaks on April 2, and then the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico in May.

Cathy’s Crunches was privately purchased by Hollendorfer and Mark DeDomenico after winning her debut last June at Calder. They did the same with Blind Luck.

Hollendorfer does not compare Cathy’s Crunches to Blind Luck. Blind Luck won two Grade 1 stakes, was second in another, and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly as a 2-year-old after her purchase. Cathy’s Crunches has won three stakes in three starts at Golden Gate Fields.

Cathy’s Crunches was the first Hollendorfer-trained runner purchased from Florida since Blind Luck.

“We just look for horses that can sprint and can carry their speed for a distance,” Hollendorfer said.

After winning a claiming race at Calder, Cathy’s Crunches won a starter allowance at Del Mar in her debut for Hollendorfer. She was then third in an allowance race at Del Mar and second at Parx Racing when she accompanied Blind Luck there.’

Since coming to Golden Gate, she won the six-furlong Golden Gate Debutante in wire-to-wire style, defeated colts in the six-furlong Golden Nugget after pressing the pace, and then won her first race at a mile, sitting back early and making a strong move in the lane to win the Dec. 4 Corte Madera.

Each race was more impressive than the last, but Hollendorfer says it’s the consistency of Cathy’s Crunches that impresses him the most.

Game to Run and Lilacs and Lace, who dead-heated for second in the Corte Madera, the Hollendorfer-trained Seismic Speed, fifth in the Corte Madera, and Sister Glady Oh La, who has won her past two starts, will test Cathy’s Crunches.

“The thing is to forget what she did before and keep trying to do better,” said Hollendorfer.

But Game to Run’s trainer Bill Delia and Lilacs and Lace’s trainer Duane Offield aren’t forgetting.

“Jerry has the horse to beat. She’s sure tough,” said Delia.

“Jerry’s filly is going to be tough, but you can’t beat her sitting in the barn,” said Offield.