08/12/2012 8:47PM

Del Mar: City to City comes through for Hollendorfer in John C. Mabee

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Benoit & Associates
City to City (left) and jockey Corey Nakatani just catch All Star Heart at the wire of the Grade 2 John C. Mabee.

DEL MAR, Calif. - It’s hard to keep a Hall of Famer down. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was off to a sluggish start this summer at Del Mar, winning with just one of his first 30 starters, but he had good fortune shine down on him late Sunday, winning consecutive races in photo finishes, including when City to City nosed out All Star Heart in a thrilling running of the Grade 2, $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes for older female turf horses.

“We needed that,” said Hollendorfer, who also is a co-owner of City to City. “We’ve been stinking the place up quite a bit.”

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City to City ($15), the fourth choice in a field of six, raced in fifth until the top of the stretch, and she closed with rush to just nail All Star Heart, despite jockey Corey Nakatani losing his whip with a furlong remaining.

All Star Heart finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Go Forth North, and she was followed, in order, by Cambina, Imperialistic Diva, and Nereid, the 3-2 favorite.

City to City completed 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:46.50, and she made up two lengths in a final eighth that was timed in 11.74 seconds. Hollendorfer said Nakatani, who won three races Sunday, “couldn’t have timed it any better.”

City to City was winless in her last four starts, but Hollendorfer theorized a few days before the race that City to City was capable of bouncing back at Del Mar, where she had finished in the money in all three of her previous tries.

“We think she likes Del Mar best,” Hollendorfer said.

Now age 5, City to City was winning for the eighth time in 29 lifetime starts.

She’ll get one more chance at Del Mar this summer. Hollendorfer said City to City will come back in the Grade 2, $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap on Sept. 3. City to City won that race last year, when it was known as the Palomar Handicap.