08/15/2012 3:58PM

Hovdey: Success as a family affair for Proctors, Dollases

Email
Benoit & Associates
Old Time Hockey won the La Jolla Handicap last weekend for Tom Proctor and Glen Hill Farm.

Hap Proctor knows better than to take any credit for the run of good fortune his brother’s had at Del Mar this summer. The Tom Proctor stable, led by the horses of Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm, is on a giddy roll, winning with six of the first 14 starters it has sent forth, including Old Time Hockey in the La Jolla Handicap last weekend.

But as manager of the Glen Hill Farm operation in Ocala, currently in the midst of his annual trip to Del Mar, Hap at least has earned bragging rights as part of the team, a fact he concedes as only one Proctor would to another.

“Since I’ve been out here I’m telling everyone I’m Tom’s brother,” Hap said Wednesday morning at the barn. “Usually I just let them figure it out for themselves.”

About then Hap’s cellphone rang. It was Tom, calling from his frontside perch watching workouts. Hap knew it was his brother because of the customized ringtone: a Duane Allman guitar lick from “I’m No Angel.”

[Complete coverage of racing at Del Mar: News, PPs, and video]

They’ve been brothers for 56 years, which is Tom’s age. Hap is 59, but they might as well be 18 and 15 all over again and getting into all manner of mischief – at least as mischief was defined in the early 1970s when they lived in the world dominated by their legendary father, Willard Lee Proctor.

W.L. Proctor was old school in the same sense the California redwoods are old growth. There really was no other way to train Thoroughbreds when Proc first walked his beat, and it always made sense to him. He began in 1933 and worked until his heart stopped while feeding a filly at Santa Anita in October of 1998, with time out only for service in the Pacific during World War II.

The elder Proctor trained horses like Convenience, Lovlier Linda, Gallant Romeo, Uniformity, Table Hands, Woozem, and Right Honorable, for patrons like Bull Hancock, Fritz Hawn, Ralph Lowe, J.B. Brown, Peter Brant, and Lavin, who latched onto W.L. in the mid-1960s and never let the family go. Given the continuity of the Glen Hill/Proctor connection – Lavin’s grandson Craig Bernick is now president – there never really should be any surprise when they hit on all cylinders, as they have this summer.

This coming weekend could fan the flames. On Friday, Customer Base will try to win her second race of the Del Mar meet in the Sandy Blue, an $85,000 overnight at a mile on the grass. Then on Saturday, Glen Hill Farm will be represented in the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park by Marketing Mix and in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks by Left a Message.

Marketing Mix, part of Proctor’s Midwestern string, enters the Beverly D. with consecutive wins in the Natalma and the Dance Smartly on the Woodbine grass, while Left a Message comes out of a sixth-place finish in the American Oaks to Lady of Shamrock, who is back in the Del Mar Oaks along with San Clemente winner Eden’s Moon.

Tom Proctor will be front and center at Arlington, leaving the Del Mar chores to his assistant, Aimee Dollase. If the name sounds familiar it should. The Dollase family has made more than its share of training history. Before he retired, Aimee’s father, Wally, won such prime events as the Travers (twice), the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the Hollywood Derby, the Beldame, and the Woodbine Mile, while Aimee’s brother Craig numbers the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, the Met Mile, and the Hollywood Gold Cup among his accomplishments.

Aimee Dollase played key roles in the stables of both her father and brother and now, since March, she has been Tom Proctor’s right hand in California.

“I knew Tom’s father to say hello,” Aimee said during a brief break at the barn. “He was pretty intimidating. But the family we’ve known a long time. You always respected how they handled their horses.”

It would be hard for her to get used to anything but the best. During a delirious run from 2002 to 2005, Aimee traveled far and wide with her father’s string to win major stakes with Meteor Storm, Ten Most Wanted, Good Journey, and Bare Necessities. This is why she was not a very happy camper last year when Wally Dollase retired after being diagnosed with the rare neurological Lewy Body Disease, with its symptoms that mimic both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Aimee had no choice but to dip a toe into the water of a small public stable of her own, but for someone with such a handsome r é sum é , the opportunities were thin.

“You would think the world would be wide open to you,” she said, knowing better. “But that’s not the way it works. Hopefully it will be someday when I do decide to go on my own in a full-fledged way. But right now I’m just very happy to be in California with such a good stable and good people.”

Wally Dollase and his wife, Cincy, were at Del Mar last weekend from their Kentucky home to watch the Proctor stable shine, first with the imposing 2-year-old Midnight Ballet, who won her debut for Stoneway Farm, and then with Old Time Hockey in the La Jolla.

“Before I thought you were showing off,” Hap told Aimee in the flush of victory. “Now you’re just being greedy.”

As the colt returned, and Aimee went to greet him, Tom Proctor caught sight of her parents standing along the rail.

“C’mon,” the trainer said, gently touching Wally’s arm. “Get in that winner’s circle with your girl.”