04/22/2003 11:00PM

A feat not seen in 50 years


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Wally Dollase and his son Craig, both successful horsemen in California, have a chance to write a fresh page of racing history here next weekend.

The senior Dollase will saddle Illinois Derby winner Ten Most Wanted in the 129th Kentucky Derby. And on the day before the Derby, Craig Dollase will attempt to capture the Kentucky Oaks with Elloluv, who may be favored on the basis of her impressive victory in Keeneland's recent Ashland Stakes.

More than half a century ago, the Jones Boys of Calumet Farm, Ben and Jimmy, who both contributed to the training, brought off the rare double with Ponder and Wistful in 1949 and again in 1952 with Hill Gail and Real Delight. Ben Jones received official credit in both cases because that is the way he wanted it, but son Jimmy was doing most of the training by that time.

In any event, there has been no double since, though some of the best have taken shots. The Dollases train separately, but if they brought off the sweep, the acclaim would be an acceptable substitute for official recognition.

Ten Most Wanted, the Kentucky Derby candidate, is a big, strong, smooth-striding son of Deputy Commander. Wally Dollase trained the sire, who won a memorable Travers at Saratoga and earned $1.9 million before retiring to stud. Owned by a 10-member syndicate, the Horizon Stable, and J. Paul Reddam, Ten Most Wanted, purchased at Calder for $145,000, has started only five times, winning twice. But he has come to hand furiously in recent weeks. Wally Dollase feels Ten Most Wanted has a chance to pull a Derby upset, much in the manner Illinois Derby winner War Emblem won the roses last year.

"He broke his maiden going a mile at Santa Anita in January," Dollase said, "and was impressive, winning by eight lengths. But when he ran back in the Sham Stakes, he was hit coming out of the gate. Then he got caught up in a speed duel and weakened at the end.

"Horses remember bad experiences and I believe he was still feeling the effects when he was third in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields."

But a month later, he was a different individual in winning the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. He moved willingly between horses and showed other indications of maturity, winning by four lengths under Pat Day, who has chosen him for his Derby mount.

Dollase sees the Kentucky Derby as a wide-open race and regards the favored Empire Maker as beatable. He feels he has an edge with Ten Most Wanted, who runs with a 30-day interval from his last start.

And then there is the "Three Factor."

"Three is my lucky number," Dollase explains. "This is the third time I've run a horse in the Derby and the race is on May 3. I just hope that doesn't mean he will finish third."

Craig Dollase, who assisted his father for five years, started his own stable seven years ago and promptly made a name for himself with the fleet Reraise, winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

He purchased Elloluv a year ago at Keeneland for $120,000, acting for Reddam, who flourished with a home-loan operation on the Internet. The petite but well-balanced bay filly was a star from the outset, winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes last fall. She had a memorable series of three hard-fought races with the talented but unlucky Composure, now retired.

Elloluv sparkled in winning the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, taking the lead at the start and scoring by almost four lengths under Robby Albarado. Craig Dollase feels she can improve off the Ashland, and if he's right she will be a formidable favorite in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks.