11/04/2009 12:00AM

Hollendorfer still under the radar

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is fourth on the all-time wins list with 5,505 but is not in the Hall of Fame.

ARCADIA, Calif. - He is one of only four trainers who have won at least 5,000 races, and he ranks 10th all-time in purse money won. Those accomplishments have not been good enough to merit Jerry Hollendorfer a spot in Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame.

"It's really a joke," said Dan Ward, who has worked as an assistant to Hollendorfer for two years after serving in a similar capacity for Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel for two decades. "His work ethic is just unmatched. He puts all his effort into every horse, even if it's running for $4,000. You've got to respect that, and I think that's overlooked."

"I don't really think about it much," said Hollendorfer, who has 5,505 victories and whose horses have won $107,946,311 in purse money. "I've been nominated to the Hall of Fame, and I'm very appreciative of that. So far I haven't been voted in, but that's something that other people decide."

Three years ago, Hollendorfer, the dominant trainer in Northern California for two decades, decided to move some of his horses to Southern California, and that has opened opportunities that may not have previously existed. In 2008, he got to train Heatseeker, who won three graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. He has 35 horses based at Santa Anita to go along with the 100 he trains in Northern California.

"Had I not come down here, I would have never been presented with the opportunity to train Heatseeker, which was a great experience," Hollendorfer said.

While he has won over 100 graded stakes since his training career began in 1979, none has come in a Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup race. Hollendorfer, 63, has had three starters in the Breeders' Cup and came close to victory in 2007 with Hystericalady, who was beaten a neck by Ginger Punch in the Distaff, now the Ladies' Classic, at Monmouth Park.

This year, Hollendorfer has two horses in the Breeders' Cup. Friday, he will send out Blind Luck as the probable favorite in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Saturday, he'll send out live longshot Chocolate Candy in the $1 million Dirt Mile.

If Blind Luck runs Friday the way she galloped over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface Wednesday morning, chances are that Hollendorfer will have that signature win.

"I and the rest of my barn have a lot of confidence in her," Hollendorfer said Wednesday. "If she stays the way she is and has some good fortune in the race, we think that she has a great chance to win."

Blind Luck was a private purchase after a debut victory in a claiming race at Calder. She has won two of three starts for Hollendorfer, including the Grade 1 Oak Leaf.

Chocolate Candy is a three-time stakes winner who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Belmont Stakes. He has shown the ability to handle a mile and did run second in the Santa Anita Derby over this track in April. On Wednesday, Chocolate Candy worked five furlongs in 1:00.41, with a final quarter in 23.55 seconds.

"He is a decent miler," Hollendorfer said. "He does really like the racetrack and had a very nice breeze over the racetrack today. I thought that set him up pretty good for that race."

Away from the national stage, Hollendorfer has been the dominant force for two decades in the small racing pond that is Northern California, winning every trainer's title at Golden Gate Fields or Bay Meadows from 1986 to 2008. Among his biggest victories nationally are two Kentucky Oaks, with Lite Light and Pike Place Dancer; the Haskell with King Glorious; and the Coaching Club American Oaks with Lite Light.

"He's probably got the credentials," said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. "What hurts him is he's been stuck out in Northern California. If he'll start to venture east a little bit more, he'll get the exposure that he needs."

"Jerry will get in there," said Bob Baffert, the most recent of the 84 trainers inducted into the Hall of Fame. "He's a great horsemen, great trainer. Definitely belongs. You've got to do something back East."

Hollendorfer has only ventured east for an occasional stakes race. For two years, he set up a division at Arlington Park in Chicago. Despite the uncertainty of the California racing circuit - specifically the long-term viability of Hollywood Park - Hollendorfer said he plans to stay on the West Coast.

"I really don't know how things are going to shake out in California," Hollendorfer said. "Obviously, I'd like to keep upgrading my stable and run in the better races like I'm trying to do down here in Southern California. Our win percentage isn't as good down here as I'd like. We have won quite a bit of money at all the meets. If I had to do something different, then I'd rather cut down a little bit and concentrate on more quality."

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