08/11/2009 11:00PM

Hollendorfer has shot at stakes sweep


DEL MAR, Calif. - It seems odd that in Jerry Hollendorfer's career the trainer has won only five stakes at Del Mar.

Hollendorfer - who has won 200 races annually for 12 years, major stakes such as the Kentucky Oaks and Santa Anita Handicap, and totally dominated the Northern California trainer standings - won two stakes at Del Mar last year, the first time he won more than one stakes at the meeting.

This weekend, Hollendorfer has a chance to sweep the two graded stakes at Del Mar, starting Rendezvous in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on Saturday and the improving Tuscan Evening in the $350,000 John Mabee Stakes on Sunday.

Hollendorfer, 63, was taking his typical low-key approach on Wednesday while talking about his chances.

"Down here in Southern California, the littlest mistake can cost you," he said. "The company is very tough."

Tuscan Evening is Hollendorfer's best chance this weekend. The winner of the Gradeo2 Royal Heroine Mile last month at Hollywood Park, Tuscan Evening has won 5 of 6 starts this year, leading in most races. In the Royal Heroine, she was second for the first half-mile and held off Patricia's Gem by a nose.

"She showed another dimension in her last race," Hollendorfer said.

The Mabee, run at 1 1/8 miles on turf, will be Tuscan Evening's toughest race. The field is led by Magical Fantasy, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap and Grade 1 Gamely Stakes in her last two starts.

Rendezvous was third in the Oceanside Stakes at a mile on turf here on July 22, his first start in California since a third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows back in February.

In the Oceanside, Rendezvous was in traffic early and closed from seventh to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind Afleet Eagle, who is skipping the La Jolla in favor of the $350,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

"He got caught on the inside and had to steady," Hollendorfer said of Rendezvous.

The Grade 2 La Jolla at 1 1/16 miles on turf will be Rendezvous's first start in a graded stakes on turf.

"If we can get a clean trip, he can be right there," he said. "The distance won't hurt."

Hollendorfer could have two starters in the Del Mar Derby. Wednesday, the multiple stakes winner Chocolate Candy, who finished ninth in the Belmont Stakes in his last start, worked six furlongs in 1:13.40.

Mr. Rod begins comeback in turf sprint

Mr. Rod, the winner of the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park last November, returns from a layoff of more than eight months in an optional claimer at five furlongs on turf Friday.

The race distance has left trainer Dan Hendricks guarded about Mr. Rod's chances.

"It's a little short for him, but he's an aggressive horse that hopefully can get it done," Hendricks said. "I'm looking at getting him going again."

Hendricks said Mr. Rod had a condylar fracture last fall that required surgery to install stabilizing screws. Owned by Cecil Peacock, Mr. Rod has won 2 of 6 starts and $125,755. He is unbeaten on turf, having won a six-furlong turf race for maidens last November.

Friday's race drew a field of 14, but will be limited to eight starters because of the narrow width of the course. The field includes Ten Meropa, the winner of the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita in 2008, and Dancing in Silks, who has placed in three stakes in the last three years.

Anabaa's Creation will await Oak Tree

Anabaa's Creation, who nearly beat Zenyatta in Sunday's Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes, will not start again until the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in the fall, trainer Julio Canani said.

The $300,000 Lady's Secret Stakes on Oct. 10, the same race likely for the undefeated Zenyatta, is being considered for Anabaa's Creation, Canani said. Zenyatta rallied from last to win the Hirsch by a head over 22-1 Anabaa's Creation.

"I would have made history," Canani said. "I was happy with the way she ran."

Lethal Heat, who finished third in the Hirsch, is a candidate for the $300,000 Del Mar Mile on turf against males on Aug. 29, trainer Barry Abrams said.

Life Is Sweet, who finished fourth, will not start again until the Oak Tree meeting, possibly in the Lady's Secret, owner Marty Wygod said.

Champagne d'Oro may test males

Champagne d'Oro, who beat maidens in her fourth career start on Sunday, may return against males in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7, trainer Eric Guillot said.

Guillot already has Sorrento Stakes winner Mi Sueno pointed for the $300,000 Darley Debutante on Sept. 5.