07/26/2013 11:28AM

Santa Rosa: Halo Dolly looms large in Luther Burbank

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Winner of the Grade 3 Wilshire at Hollywood Park, Halo Dolly will be a heavy favorite in the $50,000 Luther Burbank on Sunday.

To paraphrase the classic pick-up line, some may wonder what a classy mare like Halo Dolly is doing in a race like Sunday’s $50,000-added Luther Burbank Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa, Calif.

From the looks of things, she is preparing for a late-summer and fall campaign and is likely to get a win in the process.

A multiple graded stakes winner, Halo Dolly took a while to get going this spring. She ran second against males in a Golden Gate allowance race in March and then third with a very wide trip as the favorite in the Golden Poppy there in April.

She came back with a victory in the Grade 3 Wilshire at Betfair Hollywood Park and then ran fourth, missing third by a nose, in the Grade 1 Gamely, also at Hollywood Park. She has not run since that May 27 race.

Halo Dolly returns to Northern California as the heavy favorite in Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile turf race with an outside draw in the field of seven and the services of leading rider Russell Baze. She is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, like Baze a Hall of Famer.

Now 5, Halo Dolly won the Diamond Jubilee over the Santa Rosa turf as a 3-year-old.

She’ll be joined by her stablemate Lady Aspen, who finished strongly to be second in the Golden Poppy. Lady Aspen ran fourth of five in the California Governor’s Cup Handicap on the dirt at Sacramento two weeks ago.

Several in the Burbank field are based in Southern California.

Good Karma, a graded stakes-placed Italian-bred mare, comes up from Southern California seeking her first U.S. win. Spring Bloom came north to win an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on June 1 and returns Sunday. Bound for Eden has split time between Northern and Southern California.

Northern California entrants include Vincenza, undefeated in two turf starts, and Smiles Contagious, a likely longshot who is still eligible for starter allowance races.

Santa Rosa trainer Steve Specht would like to win a stakes with Vincenza in front of his hometown fans after winning last week’s California State Fair Sprint with Marks Mine in Sacramento.

Vincenza is riding a two-race win streak, having won an allowance race and an optional claimer in her last two starts, both on the Golden Gate turf.

“She tries every time,” Specht said.

“She’s kind of small, but she never gets intimidated. She’s a good horse to ride. She’ll go inside or outside and can be up close or can sit back and then make her move.”

Because of her size, Specht spaces her races, and Sunday’s start is her first in six weeks. She’s had a pair of maintenance works and a six-furlong bullet drill to prepare for her stakes debut Sunday.