05/17/2011 12:48PM

Golden Gate Fields: Hollendorfer colleagues happy to see him honored by Hall of Fame

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Tom Keyser
Golden Gate horsemen have nothing but praise for fellow trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, the newest member of racing's Hall of Fame.

Around the Golden Gate Fields backstretch, the feeling was unanimous: Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s selection to go into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame this summer was well deserved.

Hollendorfer, 64, has won 5,941 races. Among his career highlights are three Kentucky Oaks victories, with Lite Light, Pike Place Dancer, and Blind Luck, who won the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly of 2010. Hollendorfer won his first Breeders’ Cup race last year, when Dakota Phone took the Dirt Mile.

Trainer Jeff Bonde summed up the feeling of most of Hollendorfer’s rival trainers.

“His work ethic is unquestioned, and he and his wife, Janet, make a perfect team,” said Bonde

Bonde remembers when he and Hollendorfer were starting out together in the business. Both worked for trainer Jerry Dutton before going out on their own.

“We were trying to figure out how to get Jerry Dutton to pay more than $400 before taxes,” said Bonde.

He said that in many ways Hollendorfer was the same then as he is now.

“He always tries to figure out how to learn things,” said Bonde. “It still comes down to the fact you have to have good owners and good horses. He’s worked hard to get them, and the results speak for themselves.

Art Sherman, now based in Southern California, also goes back a long way with Hollendorfer.

“He’s one of the most dedicated trainers who has ever been around,” said Sherman.

Young trainers Billy Morey and Steve Sherman are the only trainers other than Hollendorder to win a training title in Northern California meets going back nearly 30 years.

“It’s tough to run against him every day,” said Morey. “He keeps us all striving to keep up with him because he’s done it all, from three Kentucky Oaks winners to a Santa Anita Handicap winner and Breeders’ Cup winner and Eclipse champion. Hopefully, I’ll have half the career he’s had.”

Sherman said, “He’s a tough competitor when you run against him. He’s always loaded for bear, and he wants to beat your brains out every time.”

Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze has teamed with Hollendorfer for more wins than any other jockey-trainer combination, including two last Sunday with Midnight Fiddle and I Am Not Who I Was.

“We’ve kind of helped each other,” Baze said. “You know when he puts you on a horse, you have a chance to win. He’s just a good horseman, but it gets exponentially more difficult with the number of runners he has, but he still gives personal one-on-one attention.

“And there’s one other important thing: Jerry’s a good person, too.”

Hollendorfer was honored by the Hall of Fame announcement.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good things happen to me,” he said.

One of the best, of course, is his wife, Janet.

“She’s one of the key players,” he said. “She knows all the little parts and how they work. She can answer all the questions when I’m not here.”

Next race uncertain for Gig Harbor

Train Steve Specht’s plan for Gig Harbor worked to perfection as the colt went wire to wire to win the $75,000 Alcatraz last Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in his first start around two turns.

Specht said he told jockey Frank Alvarado to put Gig Harbor on the lead in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

“It was a fairly easy plan,” he said.

Specht said that he would weigh his options for Gig Harbor, who has three wins and a third and has won on Tapeta and turf.

Duke of Doom ran second in the Alcatraz. Trainer Billy Morey, said he hoped there would be a turf allowance race for Duke of Doom before the Golden Gate meet closes next month and that he might consider a turf stakes such as the Oceanside at Del Mar later this summer.

Bonde has two runners on Preakness program

Bonde will saddle Sway Away in the Preakness on Saturday after he missed entry into the Kentucky Derby by one spot because of a lack of graded earnings.

Earlier on the Preakness undercard, Bonde will send out Road Ready for his second start of the year in the $100,000 Chick Lang. Road Ready won the Lost in the Fog at Golden Gate Fields last year in his debut, and earlier this year won the Bachelor at Oaklawn.

◗ Golden Gate Fields admission gates will open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for Preakness Day. First live race is scheduled for 11:45 a.m.

◗ Golden Gate’s Dollar Day Sunday will feature the music of the Cheeseballs and a fund-raising event for the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame. Baze, who was inducted into the Hall earlier this year, is donating a percentage of his earnings from his mounts to the hall, which is devoted to developing opportunities for less fortunate youth.