08/03/2005 11:00PM

Hollendorfer confident he'll turn it around

Benoit & Associates
Ace Blue is scheduled to run in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 21, and a win in that Grade 1 race would make the meet for his trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer.

DEL MAR, Calif. - In the last five years, there has been a remarkable contrast between Jerry Hollendorfer's results on the northern California circuit and at Del Mar.

Since 1986, Hollendorfer has won every title at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields. At Del Mar, competing with a much smaller stable, Hollendorfer, 56, hasn't done well in recent years. He was winless here in 2002 and 2004 and had just one victory in 2001 and 2003. Through Wednesday, he is winless with seven starters, but has had two horses run second: Smoocher in an optional claimer on July 22, from which he was claimed for $125,000, and Ace Blue in the San Diego Handicap on July 24.

The presence of Ace Blue, a hopeful for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 21, and Hystericalady, who risks her unbeaten record in Saturday's $150,000 Sorrento Stakes, have given Hollendorfer a reason to be optimistic.

"I'm trying to stick it out a little more here," he said in his stable office Thursday morning. "Most of the reason is because of Ace Blue and because of [Hystericalady]."

Hollendorfer said he is spending more time at Del Mar this summer, hoping the added attention will change his results.

He questioned whether he made that commitment in the past.

"I don't think my attitude coming down here has been that good," he said. "You have to be committed to be successful."

When he wins his next race at Del Mar, it will be his first since 2003, when his stable was 1 for 35.

A win by Hystericalady would do plenty to brighten his outlook.

Hystericalady, who races for Hollendorfer, George Todaro, and Rancho San Miguel, has won a maiden race at Golden Gate Fields in May and the Juan Gonzalez Stakes at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton on July 2. She overcame trouble to win the Gonzalez by a nose.

"She couldn't get off the rail," Hollendorfer said. "When she did, she ran well."

Hystericalady is one of nine entrants in the Grade 3 Sorrento, which is run over 6 1/2 furlongs. Patrick Valenzuela, who has been aboard for her recent works, has the mount for the first time.

"Honestly, I like this filly. I think she's a nice filly," Hollendorfer said. "She hasn't done anything wrong so far. She's worked very well here at Del Mar. Pat has worked her twice. Those are pretty good signs."

Frustrating week for Drysdale

Trainer Neil Drysdale has been baffled by two decisions made by Del Mar stewards in the last week, most recently the disqualification of Drysdale's horse Sarafan from first to second in Wednesday's $82,450 Escondido Handicap.

Sarafan, the defending champion, finished a head in front of Laura's Lucky Boy, but was demoted for bumping that rival in the final few strides. Stewards Dennis Nevin, Kim Sawyer, and George Slender changed the order of finish after a lengthy inquiry.

Slender said the timing of the incident was a major factor in the decision.

"Right before the finish, [Sarafan] bumped the hind quarters of the other horse, who only got beat that far," Slender said, holding his fingers a few inches apart.

"If he had won by a half-length or a length, we wouldn't have done anything."

The stewards did not have all the tools necessary to make a proper decision.

The head-on view of the turf course used by the stewards, the same one shown to the public, is positioned for a head-on view of the dirt course, offering an awkward angle for reviewing turf races.

The only head-on camera for the turf course is positioned at the top of the stretch, offering a rear view of the horses running away from that camera position.

Track president Joe Harper said Del Mar intends to construct a head-on camera at the end of the stretch of the turf course for the 2006 meeting.

Drysdale said he was angered by Wednesday's decision and the lack of a disqualification in the restricted Wickerr Handicap on July 30. He argued that his Wickerr starter, Terroplane, was forced out in early stretch by race winner Tsigane. Two jockeys lodged objections against Tsigane, but the order of finish was not changed.

"There are the strangest decisions coming out of here," Drysdale said. "I was flabbergasted they didn't take Tsigane down when he came out."

In the Escondido, over 1 3/8 miles, Sarafan rallied from sixth to run alongside Laura's Lucky Boy in the final furlong. The two brushed in midstretch before making contact before the wire.

"I thought Sarafan had gone by, so how is it going to affect the outcome?" Drysdale said.

Drysdale has called for an appeals process to be launched for disqualifications. Currently, there is no recourse to appeal a disqualification.

"The system needs to be overhauled," Drysdale said.

Promoted winner Laura's Lucky Boy is owned by Mercedes Stable and trained by Richard Mandella. The Escondido was Laura's Lucky Boy's first stakes win since the Thunder Road Handicap over a mile at Santa Anita in February. Laura's Lucky Boy joined Mandella's stable in the spring.

"When I first got him, I thought he was a better miler," Mandella said. "We thought we might test the water here. I didn't know if he'd get a mile and three-eighths."

Mandella said he thought Laura's Lucky Boy was significantly affected by the bumping.

"When I saw the head-on, that horse hit him pretty good in the last 50 yards," Mandella said.

There will be a rematch between Laura's Lucky Boy and Sarafan in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 28.

Pico Central to undergo tests

Pico Central, a top sprinter from 2004 who was found to have bled in Sunday's Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap, will undergo a serious of tests in coming days to determine why he bled, trainer Paulo Lobo said. Pending the results of the tests, Pico Central may be retired.

A winner of 9 of 17 starts and $1,283,145, Pico Central is scheduled to go to stud in Florida in 2006.

"We'll make a decision next week," Lobo said. "We'll check his blood, and ultrasound his lungs. Aside from the bleeding, he's perfect."