08/18/2003 11:00PM

From fairs to the big time?


SAN MATEO, Calif - The Bay Meadows Fair, which ended Monday, was a red-letter meet on several fronts.

On Aug. 13, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer debuted a 3-year-old filly, Gone to Party, who could be something special.

She entered the race with uncharacteristically fast works, blowing out with a bullet half-mile of 46.60 after having worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 in her previous drill.

She had to check early in the six-furlong race and had no place to run around the turn while rating nicely for Russell Baze. When she got a tiny opening, Gone to Party rushed through it, quickly taking command and winning by six lengths.

Hollendorfer also may have a nice prospect in Secret Corsage, a 2-year-old filly who was impressive winning her debut on closing day.

Long time coming

Another first-time winner of note at the meeting was trainer Ronnie Wallace, who saddled Hey Fabulous to win a $6,250 claimer Aug. 13 in her first start since she was claimed for $4,000 on June 27 at Pleasanton.

"I tried the game years ago," said Wallace, 47. "I've been away for 14 years."

Wallace grew up around horses in Richmond, located near Golden Gate Fields. He was a successful car importer when a friend introduced him to racing.

Wallace said trainer Clarence McCain convinced him to groom and walk horses and learn about training so that he would have an understanding of the game when he became an owner. Wallace eventually took out his training license and had 12 horses at one time, but his business demands at the time forced him to go overseas several times a year and he decided to "back off" from racing.

Wallace has retired from the car importing business and devotes most of his time to a nonprofit organization he founded to help at-risk youths get internships and on-the-job learning experiences. His retirement has also allowed him to return to racing.

"It's a real energy reliever for me," he said. "I like the game."

He is now operating a six-horse stable at Golden Gate Fields. He started three horses before Hey Fabulous.

Titles and bonuses

Hollendorfer and Baze were the leading trainer and rider for the two-week Bay Meadows Fair meet. Hollendorfer had nine victories, Armando Lage seven, and John Martin six.

In the Bay Meadows Fair-sponsored trainers' contest, Lage earned $3,000 for the top point total based on entries and placings, defeating Hollendorfer, 133 points to 118. Hollendorfer won $2,000. Bill Morey won $1,000, finishing third with 94 points.

The training contest has a rule that is intended to level the playing field and give some of the medium-sized outfits on the grounds a chance to win. The three largest outfits - those of Hollendorfer, Lage, and Art Sherman - did not receive any points for their first 13 starters, one for each day of the meet. Sherman finished fourth in the standings and would have been third if his first 13 starters had counted.

Twenty trainers received a bonus of $150 per starter, for running more horses this year than they did last year.

Baze, who did not ride for two days during the meet, finished with 18 winners, seven more than Chad Schvaneveldt and Francisco Duran, who tied for second.

At Ferndale, Dennis Hopkins won the trainers title for the fifth time in seven years, with eight winners. Richard Sanchez was the leading rider with 12 wins in the 10-day meet.

Hollendorfer connection

Hot Scramble, who won the Don Harmon Memorial Les Mademoiselle, on Saturday at Ferndale, and Smokeville, winner of Sunday's C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon, had something in common besides winning the fair's two premier stakes races.

Both were claimed from Hollendorfer.

Roger Roger fails in repeat try

Hopkins, whose horses Hot Scramble and Triviality ran one-two in the Les Mademoiselle, entered defending champion Roger Roger in the Marathon, hoping he would join Ebonist (1999-2000), Moloku (1966-67), and Ready Standard (1958-59) as the only back-to-back winners in the history of the 1 5/8-mile race.

Roger Roger had only one previous race this year, finishing fifth in a 6 1/2-furlong prep at Ferndale on Aug. 9. He finished third in the Marathon behind Smokeville and favored Not Accountable.

Smokeville raced five wide around the first turn and found himself three or four wide as the field continued to circle the half-mile track.

Nonetheless, he was in better shape than Not Accountable, who dwelt in the gate and was also forced to race wide. He moved ahead of Smokeville after the opening mile, but Smokeville took over on the last lap, opening up in the stretch before Not Accountable made a last-ditch rally and came within three-quarters of a length at the finish.